It has been over 10 months since the unprecedented slaughter of over 1,400 white-sided dolphins in the Faroe Islands caused a global outcry. Now, the Faroese government has finally announced the results of its internal review regarding the future of dolphin hunts and it is not good news.
Unlike the hunts targeting pilot whales, there is little local demand or support for dolphin meat. Rather than align with the will of the Faroese public and ban the hunting of dolphins, the government has decided to double down and establish an annual quota for dolphins. The amount is set at 500 individuals for 2022 and 2023 with the possibility of an increase in future years.
Opinion polls launched in the Faroe Islands after in the aftermath of the September hunt revealed that most of the Faroese public also opposed the dolphin hunts—despite ongoing support for pilot whale hunts—and the Faroese fisheries sector had expressed concern for its future due to the growing international pressure and consequences for exports and trade.
The Faroese Aquaculture Association issued a statement after the September slaughter condemning the hunt and joined calls for the country’s prime minister to ban dolphin hunting. In response to the recent announcement, the Association stated its disappointment in the decision, noting that dolphin hunts are the biggest threat to Faroese fish exports and should be discontinued as a direct threat to Faroese livelihoods.
Unfortunately, while the Faroese government had the opportunity to align with the will of the Faroese public and ban the hunting of dolphins, the Faroese Fisheries Ministry instead announced its decision to establish an annual quota of 500 individuals for Atlantic white-sided dolphins—a step backward that not only enshrines dolphin hunting into law, but allows for more dolphins to be killed annually than what has, in practice, occurred without established quotas.
The quota of 500 animals per year will apply for 2022 and 2023, but the statement from the Faroese Government suggests that as many as 825 dolphins could be harvested annually, signaling that this quota can be raised from 2024 onwards.
While this announcement has been painted as a positive and responsible move by the government, it is a backward step for whale and dolphin protection and is a flagrant dismissal of local communities who acknowledge little demand for Atlantic white-sided dolphin meat and who recognize the damage such hunts pose to Faroese reputation and trade abroad.
In a separate and potentially more positive development, the Faroese government is also considering changes to pilot whale hunting that would allow whaling foremen in local communities to declare temporary bans on whaling in their jurisdictions upon determination that whale meat is not needed.
OPS condemns all whale and dolphin hunting. Take action by asking the Prime Minister of the Faroe Islands to end these unnecessary hunts forever.