Faroe Islands announced on Sunday that the traditional catch of dolphins to be killed in its water would provisionally be limited to 500. The decision to crack down on the number of hunted dolphins comes after public outcry from last year's hunt, where over 1,423 white-sided dolphins were killed, a spree that shocked even residents who supported the practice.
An annual catch limit of 500 white-sided dolphins has now been proposed by the Ministry of Fisheries on a provisional basis for 2022 and 2023, the government of the Danish autonomous territory said.
Aspects of that catch were not satisfactory, in particular the unusually large number of dolphins killed, the government said in a statement.
In the tradition known as grindadrap, Faroese hunters surround dolphins or pilot whales with a wide semi-circle of fishing boats. They drive the dolphins or whales into a shallow bay where they are beached and then fishermen on shore slaughter them with knives.
Images of the bloody hunt have made headlines around the world, with many calling the practice barbaric. But the tradition, which goes back hundreds of years, still enjoys broad support among the people living in the Faroe Islands.
In its statement, the government insisted that the hunt was considered sustainable. The latest scientific estimate for white-sided dolphins puts the stock at around 80,000 in the seas around the Faroe Islands. Based on this, an annual catch of around 825 white-sided dolphins would be well within sustainable limits, the statement said.
The Faroe Islands are fully committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, including SDG 14 – to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development, it added.
The government stressed that the catches still serve as an important supplement to the livelihoods of Faroe Islanders.