For the first time animal activists have shown evidence that an open and a black market in whale meat exists on the Faroe Islands. The animal protection activists Andreas Morlok (Project Whale Protection Action – ProWal) and Juergen Ortmueller (Whale and Dolphin-Protection-Forum – WDSF) (*) discovered on these islands, under the pretext of being anglers, that the pilot whale hunt nowadays has nothing to do with the old traditions which the hunters claim to be following.
“Contrary to the insistence of the Danish and Faroe governments that there is no trade in whale meat, we did uncover that the whale meat is not only available to the population living there at no cost, but that there exists a lively trade in pilot whale meat. Pilot whale meat can be ordered in restaurants like “Marco Polo” and in the four star hotel “Hafnia” and can be openly purchased in the fish market of the capital Thorshavn. Anybody can buy and consume whale steaks there and this at an exorbitant price of 40 to 50 Euros per meal” according to Morlok (ProWal).
By being undercover anglers, the two activists discovered that there also exists an additional “grey” market for whale products. WDSF-CEO Ortmueller explained that since after a hunt “every inhabitant has a right to whale meat at no cost, there is a very strong temptation to sell the marine mammal meat to people who will pay for it”.
The two incognito anglers were offered whale meat in the restaurant of the hotel Sjoemansheim in Klaksvik, a specialty that the chef had “acquired “ since the private freezers are full to the top after the slaughter of over 800 whales during this hunting season.
A fellow with boats for hire sold the activists half a kilo of marinated whale meat.
In the capital of Thorshavn the biggest supermarket SMS with a footprint of more than 10.000 square meters sells mink-whale meat imported from Norway as a delicacy at a price of 43 Euros per 2.5 kilos. Up to now Norway maintains that the whale meat is only for own consumption and that they only export whale products to other whaling countries like Japan and Iceland.
The two activists think that it is also a dangerous neglect to omit the fact that whale meat is contaminated to a high degree with mercury and PCBs. The Faroe government only mentions that ‘children and pregnant women should maybe abstain from eating whale meat’.
Morlok of ProWal argues that slaughtering whales nowadays is unnecessary since it has nothing to do with old traditions: “there are plenty of groceries to be had on the Faroe Islands: by way of daily ferry and airline service consumer goods are imported and readily available. The living standard is well above average. Every family owns their home and is motorized. Motor boats, yachts and jet-skis are predominant in all of the many harbors. There are several movie theaters, museums and three hospitals for the around 48.650 inhabitants of the Faroe Islands. Super modern underwater tunnels connect some of the islands and there are helicopter taxis available.
On top of this motherland Denmark gives the Faroe Island a nice annual subvention of 125 million Euros, which affords the Faroese a very nice life indeed. The pods of whales are nowadays located through expensive satellite detection devices. The unregulated hunting quotas lead to overkill so that the whale meat ends up on the open market. More than nice pocket money for the Faroese.”
Ortmueller of WDSF argues through experience that today’s whale hunt in the Faroe Islands is nothing but entertainment following an old tradition and there are many other forms of animal cruelty manifested.
“Rabbits are being shot with lead pellets although that renders them inedible. The catching and cooking of young water-bird chicks unleashes great enthusiasm. The birds are being scooped up off the ground with net catchers at a time when they are unable to fly and are heavy from a good summer feeding. In November they start the annual hunt for herring shark, which is authorized by their government. This hunt is just sheer entertainment which brings high prizes for the best catch as we were told by the administrator of the local Natural Science museum. The hunters are not interested in the fact that the sharks are endangered as per the IUCN and should not be hunted at all. I asked one of the Faroese hunters provocatively, why they do not eat any dogs and he answered that there were not enough of those around“.
WDSF and ProWal sharply criticize the government of the Faroe Islands and are demanding an immediate halt to all whale-hunting. The two organizations warned: “We will report to the respective police departments on the Faroe Islands as well as in Norway and shall advise the supervising authorities of the Danish motherland of the active commercial trade in whale meat”.
(*) Juergen Ortmueller, CEO, WDSF (Germany) (Whale and Dolphin-Protection-Forum – WDSF - http://www.wdsf.eu/faeroeer). Andreas Morlok (Project Whale Protection Action – ProWal http://www.walschutzaktionen.de/226301/home.html)