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The Faroe (Fær Øer) pilot whales slaughter.
November 19, 2008 12:10 PM   Subscribe

The Faroe (Fær Øer) pilot whales slaughter (warning, crude pictures). The Faroe Islands (prev) were nominated in year 2007 by National Geographic as one of the most appealing tourism location in the world. The inhabitans have traditionally hunted pilot whales and other cetaceans for their own sustainment, but according also to their own national statistics (PDF) , the whale hunting business is no longer a significant factor. Some ongoing online petition is trying to put a final end to this practice.
posted by elpapacito (37 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Additional petition.
posted by elpapacito at 12:12 PM on November 19, 2008


Why have we no military base there?
demand one from congress
posted by Postroad at 12:37 PM on November 19, 2008


Ugh that's awful.
posted by Mister_A at 12:41 PM on November 19, 2008


The first link is overkill, not because of the pictures, but some of the astonishingly bad text:

Dolphins are sensitive, social animals with highly developed nervous systems. They have a profound capacity to suffer distress, terror and pain. Each year, the Faroese kill Dolphins & pilot whales and other small cetaceans.

Dolphins are not sweet innocent creatures who are brimming over with Obama goodness. They're animals, known to rape and kill their infants at time. These facts don't excuse this slaughter, but by telling this issue in such a biased manner, you may be turning off more people than you imagine.

That said, if the whale meat is left to rot, this sort of thing should be stopped. Killing for survival is one thing, however bloody it may be, but such mass slaughter just for the sport of it is pretty low.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:00 PM on November 19, 2008


Well I guess now is as good a time as any. Ladies and gentlemen of the Blue, may I present:

Whale Wars.


o hai reality TV, have u met mah friend eco-anarchism?
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 1:21 PM on November 19, 2008


Brandon Blatcher writes "They're animals, known to rape and kill their infants at time."

Uh, people do this too. I suppose you're ok with being murdered because some humans are cruel to infants?
posted by mullingitover at 1:41 PM on November 19, 2008


Uh, people do this too. I suppose you're ok with being murdered because some humans are cruel to infants?

Could you please read the sentence that came after the one you quoted? Thanks.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:04 PM on November 19, 2008


They're animals, known to rape and kill their infants at time. These facts don't excuse this slaughter, but by telling this issue in such a biased manner, you may be turning off more people than you imagine.

Nothing about the statement you quoted is untrue, though. Dolphins are indeed sensitive, social animals with highly developed nervous systems, and have a profound capacity to suffer distress, terror and pain. This is to put the idea of the whale slaughter in perspective, so that it's understood we're not talking about harvesting brocolli here.

That said, if the whale meat is left to rot, this sort of thing should be stopped. Killing for survival is one thing, however bloody it may be, but such mass slaughter just for the sport of it is pretty low.

Very true. The Faroe Islands have all the modern conveniences of any other industrialized, Western country. They don't depend on whale to survive. The whole practice of walking them into shallow waters and beating them with sticks is abhorrent and cruel.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:06 PM on November 19, 2008


mullingitover writes "Uh, people do this too. I suppose you're ok with being murdered because some humans are cruel to infants?"

I was kind of under the impression that wasn't what he meant being that he followed it up with "These facts don't excuse this slaughter... "

I get his point. The language is bad, over the top, and certainly doesn't make me prone to agree with the website.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 2:07 PM on November 19, 2008


Or what Brandon said.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 2:07 PM on November 19, 2008


Brandon Blatcher writes "Dolphins are not sweet innocent creatures who are brimming over with Obama goodness. They're animals, known to rape and kill their infants at time. "

True, and cats torture their prey, and dogs eat shit.

It's not about the animals; it's about us. Killing animals for food, to maintain the ecological balance, even for profit, these are one kind of thing, and perhaps execuable.

Killing a complex living thing, the culmination of millions of years of evolution and the extraordinary effort of the animal and its parents, killing such a perfect machine just for the thrill of it is disgusting. Killing them en masse is sick.

It's a form of vandalism, no less so than smashing a Rolex just for kicks, or spray painting graffiti on the Mona Lisa for an ephemeral fame. It's the refuge of people who can't create or even appreciate beauty or function, who instead destroy because it is easy and distracts them from their essential impotence and degradation.
posted by orthogonality at 2:16 PM on November 19, 2008 [8 favorites]


six-or-six-thirty writes "I get his point. The language is bad, over the top, and certainly doesn't make me prone to agree with the website."

Which part of the language is 'bad' or 'over the top'? These are the statements he's citing:

- "Dolphins are sensitive, social animals with highly developed nervous systems."

Whoa, slow down there hippies.

- "They have a profound capacity to suffer distress, terror and pain."

I don't have to put up with these lies. Everyone knows it's ok to eat fish, because they don't have any feelings.

- "Each year, the Faroese kill Dolphins & pilot whales and other small cetaceans. "

That's enough. SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP!
/oreilly



The author doesn't try to hide his position, but I don't think it's over the top. The slaughter is a hideous practice that only avoids widespread condemnation because it rarely faces scrutiny.
posted by mullingitover at 2:16 PM on November 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Wait, why are you expecting a blogger to be unbiased anyway? It's a truly horrific thing, and it's not this blogger's job to be objective. Did you honestly come away from that article thinking, "Slaughtering these animals purely for entertainment is a good idea. I don't think this jerk's giving these people a fair shake."

I'd question his credibility a lot more if he was completely unmoved by this.
posted by mullingitover at 2:28 PM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


I have a hard time believing that they just let it rot. It tastes quite good and has many many uses. I know in Iceland they use all the whale they kill and hunters here in Sweden and Norway also are very careful to use what they kill, so I have trouble with the idea that the Faroese are wasting it.

If people ate just for nourishment we would all subsist on beans, but tradition matters to many people and shouldn't just be limited to hunter-gatherer tribes. Besides, it costs quite a lot to import food to these islands and if their economy went bad they really would need this. Soybeans don't grow in the Faroe Islands! When you live in this sort of climate, eating meat is often cheapest and healthiest. I don't know how I'd get through the winter without the frozen moose I have in my freezer and yeah, here we eat nearly every part of an animal that is edible.

I can understand vegans criticizing this, but these whales don't live their lives in miserable cramped conditions like most of the milk and meat 90% of the people who criticize whaling are probably chowing down on.
posted by melissam at 2:30 PM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


I wasn't necessarily referring to the statements Brandon decided to point out, but thanks for the mockery anyway and, for some reason, comparing me to O'Reilly. Ok.

I was struck first by the introduction, which as previously mentioned, I think is 'bad' and somewhat 'over the top'.

Denmark - A country supposedly ‘civilized’ & part of “The European Union”. Many people do not hear about this attack on life… so no real protests have been registered. This bloody slaughter to attend Moz to ’show’ entering adulthood(!) is absolutely incredible and no one in Denmark has moved a finger to prevent this barbarism ...

That comes off as pretty badly written to me. In other words, 'the language is bad'.

Continuing, yes, fine, dolphins are 'sensitive, social animals with highly developed nervous systems'. Yes, they 'have a profound capacity to suffer distress, terror and pain'. I agree. Boy doesn't it suck that this slaughter happens, which Brandon also states he disagrees with. But you could say this about virtually any other animal, particularly the second bit about 'distress, terror, and pain'. There are other things we could talk about with the dolphins, such as focusing more on their numbers in the world, or their shrinking habitats, or the act of the slaughter itself, which should be the main issue.

Once again, I am in no way intending to say that this lessens how horrible the event is. But I feel like we could talk about this (or the author could have written this) in a better way so we don't have to deal with more stupid arguments like this and could focus on the actual issue at hand. This is not to say I'm not glad it's getting press.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 2:30 PM on November 19, 2008


Sorry, it wasn't my intention to directly compare anyone to O'Reilly, the line of argument seemed like one of his and I threw it in in a moment of weakness. I think criticizing the blog post is missing the point that this is a blogger and not a journalist, and it's OK for bloggers to inject their personal feelings into their writing. If you're going to nit-pick, go after the author of this post for including it.
posted by mullingitover at 2:45 PM on November 19, 2008


Sorry. I was just injecting my personal feelings on the article into my comment, I guess. Long and short of it is I don't like how it was written, blogger or not. It's fine for bloggers to inject their personal feelings into their writing. It doesn't mean I have to like how they do it.

Letting the thread move on now.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 2:57 PM on November 19, 2008


If you're going to nit-pick, go after the author of this post for including it.

Nitpick he may, but ordinarily I wouldn't post a blog as main link, exactly for the inflammatory effects that ordinarily follow. Yet I wasn't able to find any mention of this event in the usual sources, such as google news, maybe because the images were deemed too gruesome, maybe because they just didn't pick it. If anybody finds some, go ahead post the link in the thread.
posted by elpapacito at 3:01 PM on November 19, 2008


Within that previous thread is a link from ComfySofa which might provide a different perspective.

If this article's comment that whale meat is not sold is true, perhaps that explains the difficulty with the national statistics. In any case, I don't know enough about the Faroese side of this issue to post good links giving explanation; perhaps someone else does? It might be nice to not just have a knee-jerk "killing is gross and bad" reaction.

Also I really think we would do well to consider the gruesome nature of slaughtering any animal for meat. Killing is in fact gross, and often bad; I honestly sort of admire people who don't hide that nastiness the way we hide our slaughterhouses and feedlots in the developed world.

An acquaintance of mine who had participated in such a hunt told me that the purpose of the knife blow behind the head was to cut the spine and thus minimize the animal's pain; I remember him saying he was worried he might do it wrong and thus prolong the suffering.
posted by nat at 3:20 PM on November 19, 2008


So, let me get this right. Hundreds of millions of cows, pigs, sheep, chickens, etc. are killed every day after experiencing fairly awful lives. (Production of dairy products and eggs also involves large-scale slaughter of animals, so it's not just about the meat.) And yet a thousand whales a year are killed after experiencing pretty-much natural lives and this is a problem?

Industrial farming methods being wrong doesn't mean that the mass slaughter of whales isn't also wrong. But it's a little like telling someone to put out a cigarette in the middle of a burning forest. If people care about animal welfare then there's vastly more pressing issues than a few whales dying in what seem to be reasonably sustainable ways with minimal ecological impact.

I think the outrage displayed on that blog and elsewhere is mostly a product of whales being the cuddliest and most new-agey of marine life. In any case, outrage isn't the most productive way to respond to this kind of thing. If reduce this kind of tradition to some hideous and barbaric act of hatred and torture, then you can't understand why it's important to people. And if you don't get that, why would they ever listen to you?
posted by xchmp at 3:22 PM on November 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


Rage! against 48.000 people living on some isolated islands, trying to continue their traditional way of life. Let's go vegansexual!
posted by iviken at 4:08 PM on November 19, 2008


This reminds me a lot of the Sicilian Mattanza, wherein locals traditionally trap and kill huge numbers of bluefin tuna (or used to). Despite the fact that bluefin are possibly the coolest fish ever, growing up to 10ft long and 1500lbs, capable of swimming at 50mph, the mattanza really doesn't bother me. What does bother me, is that commercial overfishing has now pushed the bluefin nearly to extinction. It's really this kind of picture that makes me sad.

Hunting animals at a sustainable level, and hunting them to the brink of extinction are very different issues. And considering pilot whales are one of the more populous whale species, and I haven't seen any evidence that the Faroe hunt is making a dent in their numbers (but please correct me if I'm wrong), this is not something I can really get worked up about.
posted by gueneverey at 4:11 PM on November 19, 2008


xchmp writes "And yet a thousand whales a year are killed after experiencing pretty-much natural lives and this is a problem?"

This is a great point, and it's why I support commercial hunting and fishing in wildlife refuges.

Seriously though, this practice is an anachronism. These people at one point needed the meat to survive. However, they're in a post-industrial age and have plenty of options which are safer for themselves, the environment, and the food chain than eating mercury-ridden top level predators. Meanwhile, sure, people who don't hate nature should also work on reducing the level of industrial pollutants in the food chain. Who says they aren't?
posted by mullingitover at 4:19 PM on November 19, 2008


Oh geeze, now I notice there's a post just two down about bluefin today...
posted by gueneverey at 4:59 PM on November 19, 2008


Self-link and all, but the primary fpp link above is such a sorry rehash of information, it is my hope that the piece I created on the Faroese situation will do a service to those concerned (ie Faroese people, ecologically concerned, whales, rest of us). Truely, there are numerous aspects to it all which earmark the situation as being of the utmost importance.

To many, whales are the same as all other animals, and yet different to what we are. (That is, human.) Subsequently, they are "fair game" [sic]. While there is more than enough evidence to the contrary of that position, regardless, in this situation there is are two specifics which demand that the practice of Faroese whale culling end. They are:

1. The meat of the slaughtered whales is filled with mercury and it is contributing to a fantastic increase in birth defects. To quote from the release of a 20-year ('84-'04) Harvard School of Public Health-originated, and institutionally-supported (Japan, Denmark and the Faroe Islands) assessment of possible brain function impairment in adolescent children due to prenatal exposure to mercury when the mothers’diet was high in seafood,

"Some 1,022 mothers and their children from the Faroe Islands participated in the research. The mothers’ hair mercury levels at childbirth in most cases exceeded 1 microgram per gram, the exposure limit recommended by the National Research Council and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Follow-up testing of the children showed much lower exposure levels. At the most recent follow-up, more than 850 14 year-olds participated in the study."

What more, the assessment includes this letter from the chief physician for The Faroese Hospital System which states unequivocally that "children were exposed to mercury through the consumption of pilot whale meat, not fish. "

In other words, the eating of the meat of pilot whales is, to be precise, poisonous to the people who eat it.

That's one. In reality, any other reason is superfluous. If something is mortally poisonous, and does irreparable harm to developing fetus and children, it is safe to say that a government mandate may be implemented if those doing the eating do have other foods to choose from and yet are incapable of making that decision for themselves.

But nonetheless, 2., the practice is violent and abhorrent, the killing fields neither quick or merciful. Instead they are ugly and sadistic, and it is wrong to expose children to them. Horrifically, the slaughter is perpetuated by way of a tradition and rite of passage, and in the end the one practice (barbarism) combined with the other (unbroken chain) is the perpetuation of sicknesses. As a practice, and seeing as it involves born children as well as unborn fetuses, this is detestable and worthy of the increasing global protest.

As I said at the onset, cetaceans (whales, dolphins, porpoises) are held in an "other-type" regard by many, somewhere between human and animal, and perhaps hypocritically and perhaps not. Eating or not eating whales for this reason can lead to controversy and antagonism.

In any case, people eat things. Some of these things are animals (maybe even like us). And some cultural practices such as scarification or polygamy may seem shocking to other cultures.

But what is actually being discussed here is poisoning the unborn and the unknowing—with both food and traditionalization—in order to perpetuate the practice of doing so. Whale slaughter in the Faroe Islands is not a diet or a culture; it is a crime against humanity.
posted by humannaire at 5:25 PM on November 19, 2008 [4 favorites]


so sad...whales and dolphins are such smart animals.

there's something especially disturbing about their slaughter if we consider how developed cetacean brains are. they may even have culture, self-awareness, and comprehension of complex ideas.

they're so gonna kick our asses one day...
posted by sentinel chicken at 6:50 PM on November 19, 2008


also, what humannaire said
posted by sentinel chicken at 6:52 PM on November 19, 2008


Humannaire's link and info and sums up the issue well. At this point, they *can't* eat the meat, so it seems unecessary to do the hunting anymore. If only the the issue could be dealt with on that level as opposed to screeching rants seeking to scare and horrify you into coming around to their view.

and no mulling over, I don't expect a blog post or journalist to be unbiased, but I do expect them to be intelligent. That post was not.

so sad...whales and dolphins are such smart animals.

Whether an animal is smart or not should the determining factor of whether it should be killed.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:36 PM on November 19, 2008


Whether an animal is smart or not should the determining factor of whether it should be killed.

I don't know, I think I would have more difficulty eating an elephant than a herring, and I don't just mean because the elephant would take more time.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 8:45 PM on November 19, 2008


If you really think that this hunt kills more whales than things like global warming, over fishing and pollution (all the pesticides and herbicides we use to grow those soybeans) you are very wrong.

It's easy to point to other cultures and other people and tell them to stop but not so easy to modify your own behaviour.
posted by fshgrl at 12:07 AM on November 20, 2008


Rage! against 48.000 people living on some isolated islands, trying to continue their traditional way of life.

Um, those people are white Europeans, so they can't have a traditional way of life. They are murderers. You must be thinking of those cute Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest that still get to go whaling. White people should know better.
posted by alexwoods at 10:55 AM on November 20, 2008


Um, those people are white Europeans, so they can't have a traditional way of life. They are murderers. You must be thinking of those cute Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest that still get to go whaling. White people should know better.

I can't make heads or tails out of this. Are you trying to be edgy and un-PC with this statement here? Because if so, you just come across as woefully uninformed if not a little bit racist. Indigenous people are granted whaling rights due to sustainence hunting laws. They eat what they kill, no more and no less. The Faroe Islands are a fully developed and westernized country under the Danish crown. As such, they have no need to engage in this practice and, as has been pointed out, can't even eat the meat anyway. Not to mention the fact that there are many Faroese who themselves see the practice of walking groups of pilot whales into shallow waters and beating them to death with sticks as barbaric.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:54 AM on November 20, 2008


Indigenous people are granted whaling rights due to sustainence hunting laws.

That is total nonsense. The Makah whalers in Washington State don't need whale meat to survive - they can go to Whole Foods just like anyone else. Once they've killed a whale, they can do what the like with it - eat it, give it away, give it to their dogs. They are permitted to hunt whales because it's very important to them culturally - they have been doing it for centuries. Well, the Faroese have been hunting whales for centuries too, and the grindarap has been considered one of the defining attributes of Faroeness since people started thinking about such things. The fact that some Faroese feel the way you do about it is irrelevant. It's a democracy, just like the place where you live (I am guessing England?). Most Faroese don't think knifing a pilot whale is wrong, just like most Americans don't think shooting a deer is wrong, and Faroese laws (which, just to clear this up, are made in Torshavn, not Denmark) permit whaling, just as American laws permit deer hunting.

So, to answer your question:

Are you trying to be edgy and un-PC with this statement here?

Actually no, I'm using sarcasm to point out that their are racist assumptions hard at work just beneath the surface of anyone, like you, who thinks it's ok for Makah or Alaskan natives or Polynesians to go whaling, but not ok for the Faroese. What's the difference? Certainly not the level of material culture - Seattle is pretty advanced in that respect. Is it that Scandinavians are white and therefore should know better?

And while I'm at it:

As such, they have no need to engage in this practice and, as has been pointed out, can't even eat the meat anyway.

No, they shouldn't eat the meat, or at least pregnant women, nursing mothers and children shouldn't. They do, in fact, eat whale in the Faroe Islands.
posted by alexwoods at 12:47 PM on November 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


That is total nonsense. The Makah whalers in Washington State don't need whale meat to survive - they can go to Whole Foods just like anyone else.

Sure, they can, but it's the sustainance laws that grant them the right to hunt whale.

Is it that Scandinavians are white and therefore should know better?

I don't really know where you made that leap of judgement, but no, I'd say it's because the hunt is excessively cruel and shocks the senses to witness. Whether or not the practice continues is up to the Faroese, ultimately, but that doesn't mean people can't be disgusted to see something like this, and say so.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:24 PM on November 20, 2008


On a tangent, it seems that the argument for tradition is still quite much around. Women weren't traditionally allowed to vote..because they were women. Some rationalized that not as sexual discrimination, but merely as tradtion. Pretty weak argument indeed.
posted by elpapacito at 3:44 PM on November 20, 2008



I don't really know where you made that leap of judgement, but no, I'd say it's because the hunt is excessively cruel and shocks the senses to witness.


It shocks your senses, but it doesn't shock mine and it doesn't shock many people living in this area of the world. Why should you decide that because something is shocking to your that it is wrong and should be banned? Have you looked into what goes on in slaughter houses, feedlots, and dairies? Much much worse and on a larger scale if you think animal suffering is a bad thing.

This isn't about tradition, it's about a bunch of people in front of their computers thousands of miles away who probably live in cities trying to impose their values on a culture they don't even understand. And I don't think many of you understand just how isolated the Faroe Islands are. They have many modern things, but a box of cheerios is $11 and not much grows there. Since they can't eat much whale (as a woman I try to only eat it once a year), I do agree they should look at other options, but most of the options that involve utilizing their environment will involve killing living things.
posted by melissam at 2:47 AM on November 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


It shocks your senses, but it doesn't shock mine and it doesn't shock many people living in this area of the world. Why should you decide that because something is shocking to your that it is wrong and should be banned?

Why should people shocked by animal cruelty shut up and do nothing about it?

Have you looked into what goes on in slaughter houses, feedlots, and dairies? Much much worse and on a larger scale if you think animal suffering is a bad thing.

I have, actually, been to a slaughterhouse for cattle. There, I saw a cow (not a steer, mind you) walked into a metal stall. A man standing on a platform above the cow gave the cow a little bonk on the head with what looks like a large metal pipe, but actually contains a .22 calibre bullet, which goes directly into the cow's skull. It died within seconds. To say that this is comparable, or even worse than marching a group of frightened whales into a shallow waters, and then beating them with sticks until they die is just erroneous.

This isn't about tradition, it's about a bunch of people in front of their computers thousands of miles away who probably live in cities trying to impose their values on a culture they don't even understand.

Ah, I see. I suppose we should stop telling all other cultures we "don't understand" to stop engaging in any other practices we find cruel and abhorrent. Or does that only count when we're talking about what they do to other human beings?

And I don't think many of you understand just how isolated the Faroe Islands are. They have many modern things, but a box of cheerios is $11 and not much grows there. Since they can't eat much whale (as a woman I try to only eat it once a year), I do agree they should look at other options, but most of the options that involve utilizing their environment will involve killing living things.

No one is telling the Faroese they can't utilize available resources, including the killing of living things. Just that they should, you know, be a bit less cruel about how they go about it. A lot to ask? Oh well. As I said, the decision is ultimately up to the Faroese. But in the meantime, people have every right to speak up about it, and will continue to do so.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:53 AM on November 21, 2008


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