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Warning: This story contains graphic photographs which depict the reality of whale-hunting in the Faroe Islands. Photographs as well as the language displayed in social media snapshots may be offensive.

Whaling is an issue which is plaguing the international media, and the current saga surrounding the Faroe Islands Grindadrap is headline news. Few would have missed the recent media circus and international outrage surrounding the killing of pilot whales in the Faroe Islands, a practice known locally as the Grindadrap.

Hundreds of pilot whales are slaughtered every year on Faroese shores, and the international community sits horrified as gruesome images circulate depicting the bloody scene.

International organizations rush to the islands to intervene, though many volunteers arrive on the islands ill equip to operate a successful campaign, relying heavily on media hype for facts, and with little understanding of, or willingness to understand, the Faroese culture.

They fail to realize that it is only when you understand something that you can effectively seek to change it.

Photo CC

Pilot Whale Hunts in the Faroe Islands. Photo CC Nordlysid.fo

There is a lot of misinformation as to the facts of the pilot whale hunts online. Hate speech plagues social media, propaganda quickly spreads, and intentionally created myths circulate, all forming part of an aggressive (and highly counterproductive) campaign to end the pilot whale hunts.

But those who spout hate speech online; those who intentionally promote misinformation, ignorantly take myth for fact, and spread propaganda aiming to smear an entire society in the world media, these people do not achieve a thing, and it this kind of barbaric ignorance which is worse than the slaughter of pilot whales themselves.

The Faroese Culture

The Faroe Islands are a small archipelago of islands in the North Atlantic Ocean, northwest of Scotland and halfway between Iceland and Norway. The islands are some of the most remote in the world, and as such, have remained largely unchanged by time and uninfluenced by modern societies.

Unchanged by time. The Faroese sharing their catch.

Direct decedents of Vikings, the Faroese are incredibly proud of their cultural heritage. Through plague, 400 years of pirate attacks, trade monopolies, colonial oppression from numerous foreign powers, and braving their harsh oceanic environment, they have stood on the brink of extinction many times and survived.

Their ancient Nordic language has survived and is still spoken to this day, they still row for sport and navigate the ocean on beautiful wooden boats similar to traditional Viking ships, and they continue live largely off the land, killing pilot whales as a source of food.

Pilot whales have been instrumental to the survival of the Faroese people. Severely isolated in the North Atlantic Ocean, through famine, failed harvests and supply shortages (for instance where Danish supply ships were prevented during war), it was once vital that the Faroese were able to provide their own food, and perhaps self sufficiency in their harsh oceanic environment is an ability which they do not wish to lose in a desperate situation.

Gásadalur Waterfall. The mountainous islands and harsh conditions make the Faroes largely unfit for agriculture.

The mountainous islands and harsh conditions of the Faroes are largely unfit for agriculture, and as such, the islanders depended solely on fishing, livestock…and whales.

The  Pilot Whale Hunts

The Grindadrap, more commonly referred to as the Grind, is an opportunistic whale hunt which occurs annually in the Faroe Islands.

A non-commercial hunt (the meat is not exported, but kept for themselves and distributed amongst the community as free food), pilot whales are harvested for their meat and blubber and then shared amongst the Faroese community.

This has historically been an important economic relief to the islands, who rely heavily on international imports due to their remote location.

Photo

Faroese Pilot Whale Hunts. Photo CC Nordlysid.fo

A whale hunt only occurs when whales are sighted by chance, and close enough to land to drive into the shores of shallow bays and beach.

Faroese animal welfare legislation stipulates animals are killed as quickly and with as little suffering as possible – whales are killed with a spinal lance which is used to sever the spinal cord, simultaneously severing the major blood supply to the brain, meaning a loss of both consciousness and death within seconds.

Pilot whales are not endangered, and with an estimated average of around 1,000 animals killed each year (representing less than 1% of the total estimated pilot whale stock) the hunt is internationally recognized as a sustainable practice.

Health Concerns About Eating Pilot Whale Meat

Like any whale, Pilot Whales are known to accumulate high levels of heavy metals such as mercury, and as such, consumption of whale meat in the Faroe Islands has declined in recent decades due to well documented fears about associated health risks.

It was in 2008 when the Department of Public and Occupational Health recommended that pilot whales no longer be considered fit for human consumption due to the presence of DDT derivatives, PCBs and mercury in the meat, and while this recommendation originally sparked much debate amongst locals, the fact is now undisputed.

“This is the main reason people have stopped eating it” says Rúni Nielsen, food science advisor from the Faroe Islands.And those who continue eating it don’t believe.”

Pilot whales.

Pilot whales. Photo CC by Tony Hisgett

Mercury poisoning is often used as a weapon to portray the Faroese as mentally deficient barbarians, and is also in many instances used as a threat. “Maybe a little mercury poisoning is well deserved there. It’s nothing but karma” is a common citation online.

Though have we, sitting in our urban environment, really become so ignorant that we can look past the fact that the whales we are claiming to defend are being poisoned in their natural environment? How can we possibly reprimand and shame the Faroese for animal cruelty when the majority of those pointing the finger continue a lifestyle which contributes to the presence of the mercury in the first place.

And as one Faroese man said, “why is it acceptable for whales to be poisoned with mercury as long as no-one kills and eats them?”.

The Faroese Respect For Nature

So intimately connected with their natural environment, the Faroese have a high respect for nature, and for all animals, including whales.

Animals in the Faroe Islands are treated a lot better than anywhere else in the world, and pilot whales are free right up until the point at which they are killed. The ultimate definition of free range food.

Puffins are often caught as food in the Faroe Islands.

There is no denying that animals are killed, slaughtered and eaten, though they live a very good life before that. They are treated respectfully, and left to roam the islands freely, though the islanders will slaughter them to eat them if they have to. Lives are often dependant on it.

The Faroese value and respect for all animals is one reason behind the preference towards pilot whales. “A lot of Faroese people believe you should not prefer the death of one animal over the death other another animal” says Runi Nielsen to the query as whether the Faroe Islanders consider pilot whales to be higher order animals.

“So it’s like the value of life is not based on the level of understanding or intelligence or nervous system capacity, it’s more about how the value of life is all the same.”

Free

Sheep roaming freely in the Faroe Islands

“A lot of people out in the villages kill their own sheep. If their dog is terminally sick, they shoot their own dog. So it is more or less like the right to live respectfully and die respectfully, so in that sense, for me, there is very little difference between killing a fish which most people eat, or killing a whale or a sheep.

I really can’t see the difference, because it’s one life or another life which you will take. And this intelligent talk about “that animal is more aware than someone else”, for me this is like hypocrisy. I’ve never taken part in a grind, but every time I have to kill a sheep I think “now I’m ending the life of this individual.”

One argument is if you think about a whale for which may weigh many tons, and you think one life, for the equivalent of food and weight, is equal to 500,000 chickens. You’re taking 500,000 lives, or you’re taking the one. So if life is an entity that is equal, no matter if you are this big, or as big as the world, then I think it is much more ethical to kill larger animals than to kill millions of chickens who have terrible lives and are battered etc.”

While the consumption of pilot whale meat is declining, it is important to note that it still represents about a quarter of the meat consumption in the Faroes, and as such remains economically significant. If the Faroese were to stop hunting whales, they would have to catch a lot more fish or kill other animals within their environment as replacement.

International Hypocrisy

Personally, I find it difficult to listen to the bigoted ignorance which is continually spouted online.

“I wish a tsunami would sweep over the islands”; “blood thirsty murderers, the Faroese are barbarians”; “those sick bastards”; “I hope they all die from eating toxic meat”; “Dirty sons of bitches. This disgusting island should rot in hell”.

These are among many of the aggressive and accusatory statements which plague social media – a highly over emotional response which makes finding truth difficult, and finding a solution impossible.

Fullscreen capture 1272014 112642 PM

Fullscreen capture 1272014 113053 PM

It seems too many people are yelling and screaming about how the Faroese can sleep at night without caring about taking any action to find out how.

These people head to the islands looking to impose their own views upon the Faroese without being willing to sit and listen to what they have to say, or attempt to understand their way of life. This is cultural imperialism at its worst.

Despite popular belief, the Faroese are not blood thirsty murderers or psychopathic killers – they are in fact an incredibly friendly society who actually welcome foreigners, and are very willing to open their doors and cooperate with those who show them respect.

They completely understand that other people’s opinions differ from their own, and are more than willing to discuss any issue openly in a respectful manner. And, should they be presented with convincing enough arguments, many of them are even willing to change their ways. But what they do not respond well to is being demonized and shamed by those who have made no attempt to understand their way of life.

Sea Shepherds in the Faroe Islands.

Sea Shepherds presence in the Faroe Islands is overly aggressive and highly counterproductive.

I come from an urban environment with a carbon footprint which is wreaking absolute havoc on the natural world. In fact, it’s the urban lifestyle I lead which is contributing to the mercury which is poisoning pilot whales in the Faroe Islands.

I happily eat meat with no desire to learn more about where it comes from. My lunch meat is most likely the result of factory farming which provides huge amounts of meat in a very cruel way. So how can I, with no knowledge of what it takes to survive in an isolated environment, and worlds away from the source of my food, how can I pass judgment?

How can I dare to judge another society when the treatment of animals in my own country provokes the Faroese in the same way the Grindadrap provokes us? Is this not the highest level of hypocrisy?

Visiting the Faroe Islands to understand

Visiting the Faroe Islands to understand before passing judgement.

“What is completely natural for people in the Faroes, seems so alien to other people, who have never lived here – or in similar places – so they can’t possibly understand the Faroese way of life. And thus many of the aspects of this life provokes them”, says Elin Brimheim Heinesen in an article titled “You provide sustenance for yourself with what is available to you.”

“People are often provoked or disgusted by what they don’t understand. To be fair: The Faroese are also themselves sometimes provoked by traditions in other countries. People in the Faroe Islands – a sheepherding country – are, for instance, provoked and even disgusted by the Australian tradition of mulesing merino sheep, which seems very cruel to some.”

Ending the Grind in a Productive and Peaceful Way

There are actually people within the Faroe Islands who are fighting against the grind. Locals who do not believe it should continue.

There are also a large number of conservationists who arrive with an open mind ready to facilitate peaceful dialogue aimed at education and awareness about the consequences of continuing the tradition.

Organizations such as the New Zealand based Earthrace Conservation Society recognize the problems inherent in a confrontational and aggressive approach, and are working together with local islanders to end the Grind in a peaceful manner.

They are working to change the way the Faroese view pilot whales as food, and promote tourism and a whale watching industry as an alternative economic relief. THIS is how the grind will end.

The Faroe Islanders are a peaceful and friendly people.

The Faroe Islanders are a peaceful and friendly people.

There are many valid points as to why the grind should end, however those who spread hatred and attempt to attack the reputation of an entire nation without a thought for how to peacefully approach the situation do absolutely no good.

Provocative anti-whaling activist campaigns such as those mounted by the Sea Shepherd are highly counterproductive and merely strengthen the desire of Faroese nationalists to fight harder to preserve their cultural heritage. Hell, they make even me want to rally behind the Faroese whalers.

Conclusion

Pilot whales no longer need to be hunted in the Faroe Islands, and what was once a tradition vital to survival is now largely continued as an emotional attachment to cultural heritage.

Whether or not you believe the Faroese Grind should end depends upon many different factors. It depends on how greatly you weigh the loss of a cultural tradition against the loss of an animal species. It requires weighing culture against conservation.

Though those seeking to see an end to the pilot whale hunts first need to learn the real facts, and then support local islanders who are working towards a peaceful resolution. Listen and understand what you’re dealing with before taking action.

Understand what you're dealing with before taking action.

Understand what you’re dealing with before taking action.

Because those actually concerned with putting a stop to the Faroese Grind are not on the islands bearing pickets. Those actually concerned are not making a difference by spreading hate.

Those actually concerned about putting a stop to the Faroese Grind are bright enough to have gained an understanding of the grind, appreciate the background and history behind it, and land in the Faroe Islands ready to promote education of the negative consequences of continuing this tradition.

Only after you truly understand something can you fight to put an end to it. Only when you understand where someone is coming from can you form an appeal to change their opinion.

International pressure will not stop the Faroese Grind. The Islands have prospered isolated from the outside world for centuries, and will continue to do so if they must. It is for this reason too, that a travel boycott to the islands is counterproductive.

The islands have prospered isolated from the world for centuries.

While tourism is beginning to take a larger and larger role in the Faroese economy, it’s not a make or break. The grind will only stop when the Faroese people want it to, and therefore, the only way conservationists can make a difference is by promoting continued education, and cooperating to change thought and opinion.

An entire culture will not change overnight. And you certainly cannot bully an entire society, or attempt to bend them to your will and believe this will prove instantly effective. Yes, there are many ways to expedite change, though only with the correct approach.

RESOURCES

Meg Jerrard is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging around the world for the last 7 years to inspire others to embark on their own worldwide adventure!  Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Follow their journey on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter.

    110 Comments

    • Thanks Mary – I’m very glad you can take something away from the article and learned more about the situation from it. There are always many different perspectives out there, though sadly some do not see as much light as others!

  1. Megan, this is the best article you’ve written! As a Dane, I am grateful that you’re discussing the subject from an unbiased perspective and urging people to have the right approach if they wish to make a change. Instead of passing judgement – which is SO easy – they should take responsibility and try to make a difference in a productive way. Like you said, this is a matter of cultural traditions and these are simply not changed over night!
    Miriam of Adventurous Miriam recently posted…Free things to do in SingaporeMy Profile

    • Thanks Miriam! I’m so glad!

      You’re 100% correct – passing judgement is easy where-as taking responsibility is not. I really do hope that more people can start actually caring about this situation instead of just throwing hate at it. If more people bothered to understand, perhaps we would have an expedited end to the tradition, and could turn the presence of whales in the Faroes into a tourism pull instead.

      This would be a win for the Faroese economy and a win for activists.

    • Thanks Hannah! it really is just all too easy to jump to conclusions without knowing the full facts of a situation. I assume the situation while whaling in Canada is of similar cultural significance to that in the Faroes, and similarly based on survival.

      I don’t know much about that region though so will have to read up 🙂

  2. Really well written article! I really hope that we can work with the people of Faroe Islands to end the slaughter of whales. I would hope that these traditions would eventually be phased out, hopefully as younger generations come to realize that it is wrong to kill them. While I don’t fully agree that everything that Sea Shepherd does there is for nothing (sometimes international pressure can be a good thing; while it may not directly impact the end of the grindadrap, it can bring awareness to people from around the world who may otherwise wouldn’t have heard about this), I think that working with the people peacefully to hopefully change hearts and minds works better in this instance.
    Lauren recently posted…Preview: Women In Travel Summit (WITS) Boston 2015My Profile

    • Thanks Lauren – very glad you enjoyed the article. People are working with them, and even the faroese agree that it is a tradition which will be eventually phased out – the younger generation isn’t as attached to the tradition as the older generation is.

      I think that the Sea Shepherd has done great work on other campaigns, though their presence in the Faroe Islands, in my opinion, does no good. Yes, they raise international awareness, though they raise the wrong kind. They rile people up and encourage the use of illegal tactics and language which is pictured above – the social media snapshots were taken from a Sea Shepherd page.

      This instance, as you rightly concluded, is completely different to previous Sea Shepherd campaigns, and requires a completely different approach. The biggest thing about previous campaign as in Taji and Antarctica is that whaling is illegal there. It is a legal practice in the Faroe Islands and as such the only way it will stop is if we change opinion to change the law.

  3. Thanks for the great article! This is the first I’ve heard of the Grind, so I found it highly informative. It seems like the message can be summed up in one word: listen.
    Dan Perry recently posted…Beijing Hutongs, Part IIIMy Profile

    • Thanks Dan – I’m so glad I could inform you of the situation before you had heard any of the craziness! I’m so glad you took away “listen” as the main message from this article. This was my overall goal.

      Thankyou!

  4. I enjoyed your article very much.

    • Thankyou – I’m very glad 🙂

  5. Very good article that tells both sides of the story. We sells Faroe at the company I work and we get to deal with questions like these a lot … I’ll there for leave my opinion in the middle this time.
    antonette – we12travel recently posted…The Urban Outdoors of … Vienna!My Profile

    • Thanks Antonette – I’m very glad you felt the article was balanced 🙂

    • Thanks Kami – I’m glad that you attempt to understand the culture even though your initial reaction is to stand against the action.

      I probably wouldn’t like to see it on my own either, but I understand I have been raised in a different culture, and we haven’t been in the situation where it’s either kill your own food or starve. And that mindset and tradition carries on down through each generation in the Faroe Islands as it’s such a small nation.

  6. What a well balanced view. It’s great to read an article that is not full of vitriol and is well reasoned. Do we have any right to impose our culture on any other culture any where? I don’t think we do.
    Gordon Lethbridge recently posted…Northern Lights revisitedMy Profile

    • Thanks Gordon – I’m very glad that you enjoyed the post and found it to be a balances article. I completely agree with you that we don’t have the right to impose our culture on another.

      While I totally understand that we have world standards now that everything is so connected and accessible, people need to realize that there are still some very remote and isolated parts of the world where people live differently. And we can’t force them to conform when they live in an environment completely different to that of our own.

  7. I’m an animal lover and I hate to see animals slaughtered. But at the same time, I really don’t understand the hypocrisy behind all these hype targeting a small community doing something which is part of their culture while most of these people who post hate comments across social media think that the chicken they eat come from supermarket freezer.

    • COmpletely agree with you Sunish – I also hate to see animals slaughtered, though I completely understand often, in some parts of the world, it is part of survival, and it is part of their culture.

      And that’s the sad thing – most of the hatred does come from people who then go home and pull out a chicken from their freezer. The hypocrisy and hatred is the one thing which has horrified me the most out of this whole situation. It’s sad.

    • On what basis do You infer that people hating Grind eat chicken? I can assure You, that most of them are vegetarians.
      And by the way: “killing” and “culture” don’t go together.

    • Hi Alexander, I’m sure a lot of animal activists out there are in fact vegans or vegetarians, though by that same token there are likely to be just as many who are not.

      Regardless of whether people are or are not vegans or vegetarians, it doesn’t change the point that people still don’t have the right to approach the situation with the level of hatred and slander that is plaguing the web. I don’t have a problem with people protesting the grind, as I mention in the article, there are many valid reasons why the grind should come to an end, though I do have a problem with the way the majority of the world has decided to protest, as outlined in the article above. You can hate a practice without approaching it with an overly emotional and vile response.

      And in my opinion killing and culture have gone together for hundreds of years, all over the world. All sorts of animals have been slaughtered in the name of survival and culture in many world cultures in the past – pigs, sheep, cows, and it still goes on today. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, just fact.

  8. I am very glad to read such a clever and understanding article, but there is a ,,undertone” that the grindslaughter must stop one day. I do not really understand why, I hear no real arguments why? The only reasone can be that the grind as a spieces is not going to survive. Fact is, that we have to kill to survive ourselves, and grind is one of the few meatsources that we have here in the Faroe Islands and it is sustainable. But they are intelligent some say, ł,well are not many other animals that are killed and noone protestsprotests intelligent? cows, pigs, horses even rats are said to be very intelligent! But they are beautiful and cute! Well are many other animals killed around the world not beautiful and cute? e.g. many of the 58 billiones of animals killed only in US for food every year, some of them must be beautiful and cute? But it is barbaric! Well the barbarisem is, that it is done in the open just in front of everyone, not hidden behind walls like in the urbanized world, but does that make it more barbaric?

    :-).

    • I didn’t think there was an undertone that the grind has to stop – I think I definitely implied that the grind would eventually stop (which I truly think it will, I believe it will eventually die out peacefully as an outdated tradition which people just don’t do anymore) – perhaps it was the way I was trying to write.

      I was trying to write to those who do want the grind to stop, and get the message across that if they do in fact want to make a change then they’re going to have to stop with hatred and aggressive approaches. Perhaps since I was addressing these people, that’s maybe why you sensed an undertone here.

      Because the main point of this article was that nothing is achieved through hate speech, I agree, I made no arguments for or against – my main aim was to get people to reign in their emotions and approach the situation reasonably.

      I did outline the arguments as to why the grind should stop in another article over on Green Global Travel – definitely check it out: http://greenglobaltravel.com/2014/12/07/faroe-islands-whale-hunting-culture-vs-conservation/#more-15201

      Personally though I agree with you, I think that what the Faroese do on their own shores is their business, and since it’s legal, we have no right to step in. I think that you have excellent points in saying that all animals are intelligent, and you can’t prioritize the life of one animal over the other based on intelligence.

      I respect the Faroese for owning what they do, and as you said, not hiding the way that they source their food.

      Though there are definitely very good points why it should end, like not being suitable for human consumption, and that tourism could become a great economic alternative to the hunts, though this is something the Faroese need to decide for themselves.

      I believe in reasoned debate and presenting all sides of an argument, and I strongly feel like the Faroese perspective is not given a fair representation in the media at the moment. Hence why I wrote this piece trying to make people understand that their hate speech and slander does not good if they are interested in saving whales 🙂

    • Whether the grind is legal is questionable in the light of the EU law. And definitely no: the Faroese people cannot do whatever they want to – because they are not the only humans living on the planet.

    • Thanks Alexander for your comment – the biggest issue with whaling in the Faroe Islands is that the practice is legal, and only the Faroese can amend their laws. As mentioned above, despite ties to Denmark, the islands do not form part of the European Union, and are therefore not party to international treaties which outlaw whaling.

      The Faroese are a very law abiding people (they have one of the lowest crime rates on the planet), and the opinion amongst Faroese whalers is that they will continue whaling until it is prohibited by their own national law, at which point they will respect the laws of their nation.

  9. “There are good people within the Faroe Islands who are fighting against the grind.”

    This is my issue with you people. The unspoken message here is that those who do not want to end the hunt are somehow not “good people”. Coupled with the unquestioned assumption that people on the other side of the planet have any right whatsoever to try to stop the sustainable humane and traditional harvest of a natural resource by a culture they have no knowledge of, I find your smug cultural imperialism and judgmentalism to be infuriating. Bunch of misanthropes feeding your egos off the backs of innocent people.

    The Faroese are doing nothing wrong, despite what it looks like to ill informed eyes. It is a beautiful thing, and rare in the Western world, for communities to come together to sustainably harvest a natural resource and share the harvest among themselves. It strengthens the bonds of community and gives their children a solid ethnic identity, something you perhaps cannot understand.

    It is offensive in the extreme to see this kind of cultural imperialism, and I have to question your motives. Regardless of the tone of this article, more respectful than most, I am nauseated by your smug sense of moral superiority and the self justification that tells you you have a right to do this. You should be ashamed.

    • Thanks Ford for your feedback, I find it interesting that you have chosen to interpret the article in this way, as I fell you’ve completely missed the message here. Im sad that you chose to focus on what you thought was one unspoken message and neglected to note that I’m actually advocating for the Faroese.

      There is no unspoken message behind the saying there are good people fighting for the grind to end. The whole article to that point as you’ll note, completely reams activists for being aggressive towards the islanders in what even I call as cultural imperialism. Though as I claim these people cannot generalize and stereotype the Faroese to be barbarians, I cannot stereotype all activits to be barbarians either. Because there are good activists with good intentions, and they’re not all horrible people who spread hate. Hence the line which I fell you have misinterpreted.

      If I had wished to give the message that those who do not oppose the grind were not good people I would not have written a whole paragraph as to how the Faroese society as a whole is a caring, lovely and welcoming group of people. In fact I have been told that my article and the way I have written puts the Faroese on a pedastool, which is why it is interesting that you have chosen to interpret it in a completely different way.

      I think you’ll see I dedicate a large amount of text to saying those who go to impose their own views on another nation are cultural imperialists, so it seems we mostly agree which is why I’m not sure how you’ve taken Offence. I actually used a number of your articles as a reference point as our views are fairly similarity aligned.

      What people have and should take away from this article is that it is completely wrong to spread lies and hatred, and if they choose to be of the opinion that the grind should stop, they should approach th islands respectfully. As such I’ve made no arguments for or against, I believe I have promoted respect for opinion with this piece, so I will not be ashamed.
      Megan Claire recently posted…Packing Tips for Travel to Australia + a Sports Authority Shopping Spree!My Profile

    • Killing endangered, intelligent and helpless species is not a harvest, it’s a massacre. It is not sustainable either, because oceans are dying. People fighting against the grind are not misanthropes, they just understand all the consequences.

    • Hi Alexander – first of all, thankyou for your comments, I appreciate the respectful approach to expressing your opinion.

      In this instance, the practice is considered to be sustainable by the scientific community as the whales in question are not actually endangered. Though I do agree that we can question anything as being sustainable these days when we treat our oceans as we do.

      As I mentioned in the article, there are a large number of people who are fighting against the grind in a respectful way, trying to establish positive relationships with the Faroese instead of heading into the islands in attack mode.

      I think that sadly however the overly zealous and overly aggressive response from the rest of those fighting against the grind, ie efforts of the Sea Shepherd Organization and those who I’ve written this article specifically about, these people tarnish the efforts of those working to achieve mutual respect and understanding and of those making progress on the ground. It’s idiots online who spout hate, slander and propaganda who make the islanders want to shut off all together, and therefore activists earn the stereotype of misanthropes because of the actions of a certain group of people.

      Understanding the consequences is one thing, though understanding (a) the big picture and (b) what is required in reality to change the situation are two very different things. A good cause does not excuse disgusting behavior towards other human beings.

    • I’m so glad to hear you’re planning travel to the islands – they are seriously some of the most stunning islands on earth. Happy travels!

  10. This is one of the most balanced articles about whaling in the Faroe Islands, that I have seen written by a non Faroese person.

    I was starting to think that there where no reasonable people out there in the world. I think that the key phrase that I got from your article, that best describes that Sea Shepherd is doing in the Islands is this: “This is cultural imperialism at its worst”.
    What they (SS) don’t understand, is that they offend almost 100% of the Islanders by there actions. Even those that didn’t participated in the Grind and where more neutral and maybe thought, that we should stop killing pilot whales. These people now want to continue it, because of SS. Cause as just said it your self…..they are trying to force there values on us with no respect for our culture/values.

    The issue if we should stop the Grind had been up for serious discussion/debate for a few years before SS started there campaign. With talk of banning it by law, because of research in mercury pollution, and what it does to children/people. But now the debate is dead, and there is a large majority again, that wants to continue the Grind.

    Anyways….thanks for a very good article. All the best from me.

    Jákup
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    • Hi Jakup, thankyou for leaving your thoughts, I’m so glad you found the article to be balanced and can relate to my point of view. I promise you that there are some reasonable people out there…I’ve found from talking back and forth between people within my circles who are not Faroese, that the majority of people are honestly just really uneducated about the situation, and their main sources of info comes from organizations like the Sea Shepherd.

      It’s sad that these kind of aggressive campaigns can completely undo progress which was already being made. And it was so very obvious to us that this was the case when we were in the Faroe Islands. Which is sad because it really does make me question the motives of the organization in this specific regard.

      We found that those who actually wanted to advocate for the whales and make a positive change had realized that an aggressive approach was not the way to go forward, and action would only be the result of a more sensitive approach at spreading awareness and education to change minds.

      Glad you enjoyed the article.

  11. The article is very interesting but it seems a bit onesided. In the grind – the whale and dolpin pods are killed, the whole family units – mothers, young and old also pregnant females. I would hope that the faraose people are intelligent enough to realize that this is not a substainable practice. There can be no population maintainance if all the young breeding animals are killed. Please include information about who varifies the worlds popualtion of pilot whales and dolphins(other than what the IWC gives out, estimates in their favor)Wiki estimates there are only 200,000 left. Another question, why would any mother give it to her child or eat it herself if she knows it could harm her unborn children. The contaminated flesh contains lead and mercury and pbc = not fit to eat? It is mind boggling. Yes centuries ago they lived from whale flesh, but now it is not healthy – why continue with the brutality?

    • Hi Cindy, thanks for leaving your thoughts. I’m sorry that you found the article to be one-sided as I made every attempt to form a balanced post.

      Re sustainability, it is recognized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as a sustainable practice – link to the resource is above in the post. Granted, there is no information or scientific data available as to the effects of wiping a whole pod out of the ocean, and this is exactly one of the biggest issues which advocates from the island are pushing.

      The reason it is considered sustainable is that the 1,000 odd animals which are killed each year represent less than 1% of the total estimated pilot whale stock. Though totally agree that if the young breeding animals are killed this will very quickly put the population at risk. I spoke to many locals on both sides of the argument while there, and this is an issue which is at the forefront of the local debate.

      Re eating the meat during pregnancy, health concerns are the main reason consumption of whale meat in the Faroe Islands has steadily declined. The health risks are now very well documented, and there are very clear warnings that pregnant women should not eat the meat.

      As one of the food science advisers from the Faroes quoted in the article, those who continue eating it simply don’t believe. Which is why I conclude that education and not aggression is the only way to bring about a positive outcome in this specific situation.

      To change something like this which is so engrained into a society’s culture you have to change minds. And aggression will never change someone’s mind. It usually results in fighting harder to preserve their cultural heritage which is what is happening in the Faroe Islands as a result of the way the international community is approaching it.

    • Thanks for the link Gray. And absolutely – health concerns are the main reason why the consumption of pilot whale has steadily declined.

  12. Thank you for this article. It helped me understand why they do what they do.

    • I’m glad we could help you to understand the situation in the Faroes Eden. There are always many different sides to a scenario.

  13. Curious what is done with the meat if humans usually do not consume it? Fed to pigs, dogs, etc. Buried? Allowed to rot onshore?

    • Hi Denise. There are still a large portion of the community who do eat the meat, which is why it’s obviously still a tradition which is practiced to this day, though the consumption is steadily declining.

      As consumption declines, the number of pilot whales decline, and they aim to hunt only what they need so that there is no excess. As I mentioned, the Faroese respect nature immensely, so when it comes to these hunts they take only what they believe they need, and they aim to make use of as much of the whale as possible.

      The meat is always eaten, they salt the blubber so it keeps, and much of the meat they dry as well. After everything is shared out among the people the remainder of the whales are dumped at Sea.

    • …one of the locals I interviewed from the Faroe Islands just wrote me in response t your question “The question is probably comming from the misinformation about that we are not using the the meat nor the blubber, but the truth is that whale meat and blubber is not anything different than any other meat or diner.

      About 60% of the total weight of the whale is used for consumption, the rest is dumped back to the place where it came from. If you take a fish (cod) here in our westerly world only around 35% of the fish is used for consumption.”

  14. this is a very well-written article Megan. I read the one on Green Global a while back. I had a friend message me today about this. He was horrified and I didn’t know what to tell him. I love whales more than anything. I am just saddened all around, but I try not to make snap judgments and I would never say anything so harsh toward people from any culture. I hope there is no unnecessary cruelty shown toward Any person or animal. I don’t think this is too much to expect of our fellow human beings. I wish it were true.
    Kerry at The Insightful Wanderer recently posted…A History For TodayMy Profile

    • Hi Kerry – thanks for your response, I’m glad you enjoyed the article I wrote for Green Global Travel, and found this one to be equally as balanced as well.

      Tell your friend that this specific situation is a very complex and fragile issue which involves assessing the preservation of culture v conservation, and feel free to share this link 🙂

      I’m a fan of whales too, but I’m also a fan of dogs, and horses, and chickens, and pigs – but we eat them in the Western world. (Dogs and horses more so in Asia, but point is the same). Which is why I would feel hypocritical if I was to start yelling at the Faroese for sourcing their food from whales.

      In this instance there is no unnecessary cruelty shown to the animal, and I agree with you – we would hope that there would be no unnecessary cruelty shown towards a society either, though that’s why the situation is so sad.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment 🙂

  15. Meg, I also find your article well-articulated. I visited the Faroe Islands last year and found the people to be, as you point out, friendly and welcoming.

    I also know that the cost of getting to the Faroes is really not in the budget for most travelers, especially those on limited time schedules who are going to spend their time in places that there is more to do, such as Paris or Tokyo. So, I don’t really see how tourism will ever be that big of a part of their national income.

    Also, I lived in Alaska for eight years, and like the Canadian Inuit, Native Alaskans are allowed to hunt Bowhead whales. Bowhead whales are on the endangered list, but due to culture and subsistence, even the US and International governments respect their rights to hunt.

    I am a lover of all animals, am not a vegetarian, and like you’ve pointed out, hope that all animals and humans are treated with respect.
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    • Hi Corinne, thanks for such a thoughtful comment, I’m glad you found the article to be well rounded. And so glad to hear you had a fabulous time in the Faroes during your trip. It’s one of the very few spectacular destinations which are left on the globe.

      Very good point about the Faroes not being an overly easy destination to get to. We found we were fairly limited to getting flights in from either Denmark or Iceland while we were there. Though I do think if it were marketed right it could potentially be really huge. We’ve got places like Antarctica which are super isolated and very difficult to get to, yet it’s a massive bucket list item for many people and tourism does move. But you do have a good point, and that isolation is one of the reasons why I respect their society for how they choose to source their food.

      As you mentioned, even the US and Canada allow their Inuit population to hunt, and those whales are technically endangered. These are not. The difference I think being that the Faroes are a small society in comparison to a country like Canada or the US – would like to see an organization like the Sea Shepherd try to take on those governments in the same manner as they have been behaving in the Faroes and see how far they get!!

  16. Well, you should start by not judging those who oppose the slaughter if you argue that the Faroe Islands are unjustly judged internationally. What do you think about laws like the “Faroese whaling act”? What do you think about Denmark using the navy against civilians? What do you think about the Faroe Islands deporting EUROPEANS? Have you seen the blood thirsty frenzy? Do you think that humans acting that way are civilized?

    • You obvioulsy haven’t read this article, otherwise you would have realized that I have no issue with those who oppose the Grind. This article was written to provide a balanced overview of all sides of the fragile situation (which it is), and then allow people to form their own opinions at the end based on the actual facts.

      Those who I do judge as being idiots and ignorant fools are those who decide that the best use of their time is to go online and call these people every disgusting name under the sun. Because that literally achieves nothing productive. If you do actually care about bringing the grind to an end you would have realized that this is a fragile situation, which requires a more passive approach than the aggression which is currently being thrown at them by the international media and organizations on the ground. Those who actually give a damn about the whales are over there on the islands working to promote education of the negative consequences of consuming the meat, and are working together with the local islanders to open a peaceful dialogue.

      What do I think about the laws like the Faroese Whaling Act? It’s their law. They have a right to govern their nation as best they see fit to survive in their environment. As I mentioned in the article, what is completely natural for people in the Faroes, seems so alien to other people, who have never lived there – or in similar places – so they can’t possibly understand the Faroese way of life.

      Though to be fair, the Faroese are also themselves sometimes provoked by traditions in other countries like my own, Australia. A sheepherding country, Australian traditions like mulesing merino sheep seems very cruel to people in the Faroes.

      What do I think about the Danish Navy being used against civillians or the Faroese deporting Europeans? You’re speaking, I assume, of the agressive protestors who go to the Faroes Islands and intentionally break the law. Therefore they can’t expect not to be deported, and it is idiotic to believe otherwise.

      You travel to another country, you are expected to abide by their laws. Period. If I go to Russia and get caught smuggling drugs, I deserve to be deported or locked up. If you go to the Faroes and intentionally break their laws you deserve to be deported or locked up. That’s common sense, so I don’t see why it’s so unbelievable when this happens.

      How about visit the Faroes Islands and open a peaceful dialogue with the local islanders about the grind. Or just don’t break the law if you don’t want to find yourself locked up. I don’t care for what your cause, the general principle of the rule of law is if you break it you’re punished. So why do the protesters on the island think they’re above the law?

      And as you would have read in my post, the only people I don’t believe are acting civilized in this whole situation are those who express their opposition to the grind in an aggressive way. Because as I said, it’s this kind of barbaric ignorance which is worse than the slaughter of pilot whales themselves.

  17. Thank you very much for this article!! It is really well written and it really got me to understand the Faroe culture and the reasons behind the Grind. I had no idea of what was at stakes for those people back in the day, I live in France and the only way we hear about this island is to say “look at them, they are barbarians”. Thank you for this, it helped me put everything into perspective and I think you are totally right : most of us are hypocrites because we live a not so perfect lifestyle either, treating animals like shit to satisfy our always growing desire of meat! Great job there 🙂

    • Hi Nathalie, I’m so glad you enjoyed the article, and I’m so glad that through it you managed to gain more of a perspective of the Faroese culture and the reasons behind the Grind. Because it really is easy to pass judgement when we don’t understand something, sitting on the other side of the globe. But in reality we have no idea of what it takes to survive in an environment so completely different to that of our own.

      The Faroe Islands are coming into what we call the modern world slowly, though people need to realize that it’s not going to happen overnight. Traditions that deeply rooted into a society’s culture don’t fade overnight. And absolutely, the majority of us live in country’s where we have horrible history’s of animal rights, so who are we, the pot calling the kettle black in many cases.

  18. this is not the right way to take food. say what you want but you’re murderers.. you show the crudelty of this tradition and I think is more important save species than an old tradition. in these pictures we can see happy kids for the death of these dolphins in the middle of a sea of blood

  19. the world use the same aggression which faroese use to kill dolphins
    who criticised faroese is who fight for the respect of animals in their own countries.. we’re not hypocrite, we’re disgusted

    • Hi Elisa, thanks for leaving your thoughts. You are welcome to your opinion that this is not the right way to take food, however the point which I hope came across is that unless you’ve braved a harsh oceanic environment like the Faroe Islands, we really have no understanding of what it’s like to survive. So them sourcing whales for food is no different than Western countries farming cattle, livestock and chickens…all of which are usually battered and live very horrible lives.

      I personally don’t see much difference between the killing of a whale and raising an animal to live a horrible life caged or on a farm solely for the purpose of ending up in a slaughterhouse and then to someone’s plate. And it is in this respect where I call those who spread vitriolic rhetoric and then chow down on a burger – these people are hypocrites. Obviously if you’re a vegetarian, I give you more authority on your opinions here.

      You are more than welcome to be disgusted, however as I mentioned too, people are often provoked or disgusted by what they don’t understand. To be fair: The Faroese are also themselves sometimes provoked by traditions in other countries. People in the Faroe Islands – a sheepherding country – are, for instance, provoked and even disgusted by the Australian tradition of mulesing merino sheep, which seems very cruel to some.

      And you have exactly summed up the whole problem with the international community’s approach to the grind. THIS specific situation is fragile, and it cannot be effectively solved with the same agression that you may use to fight battles for the respect of animals in your own country.

      It is a completely different situation to any other country you may have fought in before, and requires a completely different approach. Those who actually land on the islands and have a genuine concern for the whales have realized that opening passive dialogue through education is the only way to achieve their goals. And as I mention, there are those who have done so, realized that aggression here solves nothing, and have set up organizations to facilitate discussions.

      That is the only way. And if you genuinely want to change the situation you need to realize that and be willing to engage in civilized discussions and debate.

  20. This is a well written article that looks fairly at both sides of a situation. On one hand we have people who needed the grind to survive, and as you say in harsh conditions. I think you did very well explaining this but I can see that it has stirred up some very volatile reactions. Unlike the dentist and the lion, this is not done for sport, if that is what you would even call it, it is done for cultural and historical attachments. However … as Grindadrap is no longer needed commercially, sensitive discussions do need to occur.
    Paula McInerney recently posted…Stay on Montague Island NSW, AustraliaMy Profile

    • Thanks Paula – I’m glad you found the article to be insightful. This is a situation which is not done for sport, though I don’t think people care to find out more when they run their mouth off online. Which is sad because you can’t call yourself a true activist if you’re not willing to step up to the plate and first choose to understand.

      Absolutely agree that sensitive discussions need to occur – though that’s exactly how they need to happen – sensitively.

  21. I have read your article with great interest. You have some good points but for me the main issue is when you hunt for plesure. It´s hard to se the men smiling in the film, walking around in the blood. It´s one thing to kill for food and one thing to kill for plesure or culture reasons. If you want to bee treated with respect as an community then you have to behave in a respectable way. I se no reason to have other expectations upon the Faroes people because of there history or location. It´s about development. Me myself is from Sweden and you should all be glad that i´m not still a “viking”! 😉

    • Hi Ulrika, thanks for your comments – I appreciate you having read the article and your willingness to listen to other points of view. Though please do realize that this killing is 100% done for food. Unlike the poaching in Africa, for instance, the whale hunts in the Faroes Islands are not done for pleasure or for sport, but 100% for food. Perhaps you could say that when you see men walking around in the blood they take pleasure in knowing that there has been a kill so there will now be food, though this is all it comes down to.

      Organizations who oppose the grind have definitely done a very good join of circulating the myth that this is done for sport, for pleasure, or to mark the sign of a boy becoming a man, though there is no truth to these claims, and it is exactly that – myth. Taking photos out of context in this situation is dangerous because it really does promote making incorrect assumptions.

      I think that in this case, and the reason why these photos and media circulate, is because the Faroese are not ashamed and make no attempt to hide the way they source their food. Where-as I’m sure I could find equally as graphic and horrifying photos from Western Slaughterhouses, though it all goes on behind the scenes in our countries, and we don’t have any attachment to what we don’t see before it lands on our plates.

      So in a way, could you say it is more developed to have the ability to source your own food and recognize and understand exactly what it means and takes if you choose to eat meat? Or sit back and wait for it to be delivered to our plate letting everything go on behind the scenes? I would probably argue that it is the Faroese who are more developed in this sense. It’s all a matter of perception though, and how you choose to perceive the world.

  22. Wow! Really interesting and thought-provoking post. On the outset, it does come across upsetting and barbaric (especially the graphic photos the media often circulate), however I’m always hesitant to judge someone else’s culture that we do not fully understand. You shed a whole lot of light on the Faroese culture, tradition and way of life that, like you said, we need to understand and empathise with before jumping to angry judgements. In light of the decline of its necessity, and the potential health implications related to it, I do hope that the Grindadraps will cease in the future. Thanks for sharing!
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    • I’m so glad we could shed some light on the situation for you, I totally respect your opinion that the Grind should come to an end knowing that you have a complete understanding of the issue and can express it in a respectful tone. More people who hold opposition need to take after you!!

      I totally understand how it can be very upsetting and appear barbaric on the outset, though as one of the quotes I included said, we’re often provoked by things we don’t understand. So I think it’s a huge sign of character and does indicate a level of education to be able to say “I want to understand”, and then seek out the facts to make an ultimately informed decision based on context and the truth.

      Glad you enjoyed the post – thanks so much for stopping by 🙂

  23. Excellent article Meg, it carries the message everyone should learn and understand – don’t judge before you either visit the country or learn about the culture. Unfortunately many people’s judgement is based on a fuss through social media which are not sharing the bigger picture. My last thought about this – sharing, sharing and more sharing articles like this!
    Maya recently posted…Hiking in Jasper National ParkMy Profile

    • Thanks Maya – so glad you found the article to be insightful. And totally behind sharing as much as we possibly can to spread the facts and stamp out myth!! I figure even if I can just open one person’s eyes, then my mission from this post will be complete.

      Stamping out ignorance one share at a time!!!

  24. I finally sat down to read this.

    I always find it hard to judge other cultures way of doing things, and whilst I don’t necessarily like the practice, I also don’t think it’s my place to wax lyrical about how it’s wrong.

    Especially since folk here happily eat meat of animals they know have been herded up and sent to an abattoir lined up and hearing the sounds of gunshots whilst they wait in line for their fate. Or knowing that those fat chickens you buy in the supermarket have been fattened up so much for meat they have broken legs (just look at a chicken leg next time you eat chicken and you’ll see it for yourself).

    I’m not even vegetarian (well, most of the time), I just work with food….
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    • Hi Sammi, glad you found some time 🙂 I think it’s a really important issue, and I’m so angry and really just in disbelief that so many people out there are willing to spout illfounded emotional crap without caring to educate themselves on the situation, and are that willing to believe whatever “facts” are handed to them without a deeper look into it.

      I think you’re totally spot on – you don’t have to like the practice, but we do have to respect that morals and ethics are different in different parts of the world depending on where you are.

      And people don’t think twice about the hypocrisy’s and the atrocious treatment of farm animals in their own backyard – we don’t see this before it gets to our plate, you see, though in the Faroe Islands everything is out in the open and on display because they are connected to the source of their food where-as we are not. I’m sure we could pull out just as horrific images from slaughterhouses in the Western World as we seem to do from the Faroese Grind.

      It’s very sad that this type of cultural imperialism still exists these days, though history seems to always repeat itself and human nature has always been the same.

  25. Hi Meg,

    It is understandable that you see the media coverage as one-sided. I do also understand why people are against the hunt. The kind of animal killed is not wholly irrelevant I think – after all, then, we could be eating humans too. Whales are still not human, of course. Some points here are more than fair, I think. Firstly, this is done for food and there is a good reason for this tradition. Things have changed, yes, so it might be abandoned but still. Secondly, I do agree that, while it looks gruesome, it is less so than a slaughterhouse. I remember going to a local farmer with a friend to slaughter a sheep for our consumption. It is drastic but I felt a very deep sense of gratitude to the animal and connection. Now, if you’re a vegetarian/vegan, fair enough, you can still criticize killing an animal and there isn’t really anything much I can say to morally defend it. Yet, the Grind hunt is definitely less atrocious than the mass murder of animals all over the world in an industrialised fashion. This, methinks, in an answer to Ulrika, is probably due to it being an old ‘Viking’ (or not) tradition, which shows more respect to animals than modern industrialised production. While ‘Viking’ traditions can change in accordance with changed conditions of availability of food… I’d much rather be archaic than an overly sanitized neo-Swede.

    • Hi Simha, thanks for your very thoughtful response. I too understand why people care against the hunt, though I’ve witnessed people don’t believe in the hunts working side by side the Faroese on the islands, and it’s understandable their frustration when they’ve worked so hard to create peaceful dialogue to then see all of this hard work undermined by those who launch aggressive and counterproductive campaigns.

      I think that re the whales being a higher order animal there is definitely some room for debate here. They’re obviously a very intelligent being, though as Runi makes the point in the article, it depends on whether or not you value the life of every animal as the same, or based on their level of intelligence and brain. It’s certainly not black and white, though I do understand the point of the kind of animal killed coming into play as a decent argument to take.

      I think the respect for animals that you’ve mentioned is my biggest argument in calling those who happily banter about this issue though don’t care about industrialized farming; because it’s quite obvious when you do the proper research that they do respect animals in the Faroe Islands, and I don’t know if I could make the same argument for many Western Societies where the majority of the world live.

      Interesting issue for debate anyhow, my only hope is that we can spread enough awareness of the facts of this issue to ensure the debate is civilized and informed.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  26. The faroe island and their civilians can burn in hell!!!

    • Hahaha you’re funny Mary. You genuinely just made me laugh. “This kind of barbaric ignorance is worse than the slaughter of pilot whales themselves.”

      This article was quite obviously for you. Have fun there with them.

  27. Whalewatching and whaling coexist in Norway, that could also be done in the Faroe Islands. However I don’t think whaling is the largest problem, marine pollution is the main problem even if the Grind stops the pollution is still there and as long as the Grind is still an active part of the culture and traditions of the Faroe Islands the focus can and should be turned towards the pollution. when that is sorted out you can start thinking of stopping the whaling. as of now the whaling is not a problem at all they only kill 0.1% of the population.

    • Thanks for your input Anders – I definitely think that marine pollution is an issue which far too many people are overlooking – I think it’s easy to yell and scream about something which seems barbaric and horrible on the surface, but when it comes to standing up for something which actually requires an investment of time, education and effort, that’s when people sadly drop out from their “activism”.

      Very interesting point that you make re the grind continuing being one of the main reasons that efforts are being made to curb pollution. Definitely hadn’t thought about it like that, but it does make sense! As one of the Faroese gentlemen said quoted in my article, why is it acceptable for the whales to be poisoned in their own environment as long as no-one kills and eats them. It’s a very good point and sheds some interesting light on perhaps how surface level a lot of the hatred put onto the Faroese actually is.

  28. Interesting article, but I never understand the problems these foreigners address. If the whales are full of mercury and lead, then the hunting would seize at some point, wouldn´t it? Most of the campaigns from Sea Shepherd were about killing for fun and the meat will be thrown out to birds. Actually Paul Watson started his grindshow in 1986. Nothing has changed, but we now now that hes in it for the money. Pete Bethune and Ady Gil have been to the Faroes, explaining to people what kinda con he is. He only wants to create disturbances to satisfy his Hollywood sponsors. Mostly degenerated B-actors like Pamela Anderson. Im not impressed by all this nonsense. But in 1986 there was no internet, in 2015 the people of the Faroe Islands can respond on the international social media. And those people Watson ships to the Faroes are not able to discuss any issue, their minds are one way controlled. This is surreal. Reminds me of the first Zappa song on Apostrophe, about the lead filled snow shoes.

    • I agree with you Pall – I believe that the majority of people who are jumping on the Sea Shepherd campaign here are doing so as they’ve been sorely mislead, and it’s sad that to be able to rally this much support you have to mislead people into believing that the whaling is done for sport, or fun, or manhood. When we got to the islands we interviewed a few Sea Shepherd volunteers and they had literally been doing absolutely nothing for weeks. Which as one of them said to us straight out – doesn’t make for good TV.

      So it’s incredibly disappointing that they’re creating more drama than there has to be just to please Hollywood and the big guns over at Animal Planet. Because really that’s being so totally counterproductive and not serving anyones interested but their own. Least of all the whales.

      As I said, if people do actually give a damn about the whales, they’ve been clever enough to realize that a lot of the information which is coming out of the Faroes is absolute horse crap intended to mislead and incite people to donate their time and money for the “cause”. And the best thing they can do is to head over with a passive approach to discussion and education. Because that’s the only way that the grind will end. You need to change people’s minds, and you don’t do that by throwing an international tantrum and stamping your feet demanding change. You have to earn it.

    • I found this article as I have been a Sea Shepherd supporter for a long time and was hoping to find something substantial that could help me understand why this slaughter keeps occurring. Although your article has a pleasant tone, there is nothing pleasant about this slaughter, and if these men are killing the animals and then giving the meat away, they clearly don’t need it for themselves. There is, as you point out, no healthy reason to continue the slaughter. I’m not sure what you think the Sea Shepherd organization is spreading about the hunt, but as a casual follower of their organization and a supporter, all I see are photographs for the hunt and the message that in spite of all compassion and reason the hunt continues. That’s all I really need to know to be part of the international pressure on the islands for this to stop. I agree with you that verbal abuse online isn’t productive, but you must also understand how appalling this looks to the rest of the world. It is a stain on the reputation and culture of the Faroe people and they should stop it.

    • Hi Erin

      While you are obviously against the slaughter, I hope this article has at least helped you understand why it keeps occurring, and that it’s not just black and white.

      I feel like your comment about the men giving the meat away has potentially missed the point. Men of the community don’t hunt for themselves, they hunt for the community as a whole. The whole point of the grind is to distribute the meat among everyone as free food which is a huge economic relief. So they’re not giving it away because they don’t need it – they’re giving it away because the point is to feed the community as a whole.

      The issue I have with the Sea Shepherd Organization is that in this instance, they are relying on propoganda, misinformation, and a lot of hype to to further their cause. Sharing photos of the grind along with a message that they don’t support it is fine, however they combine this with false information which is designed to rile people’s emotions, and an overly aggressive approach which is not providing a resolution in this case.

      I recently published an article on Matador Network about the most common things people are getting wrong about the grind. If you are interested you can read it here: http://matadornetwork.com/life/whale-hunting-faroe-islands-received-bad-reputation-heres-social-media-getting-wrong/

      If you take a quick look at the facts of the grind, you will quickly realize just how much of what’s online is completely wrong.

      I am all for debate, however conversation and debate is useless if one side isn’t willing to acknowledge the other side’s stance, and argue to the facts. There are some very good arguments as to why the grind should stop, though the majority are based on flawed logic because people don’t know the facts, and honestly a lot of people don’t seem to care about learning them.

      In my eyes, when a person or an organization has decided to take a stance without proper research, and arguing without knowing what they’re actually talking about, that’s not conservation, that’s cultural imperialism and it’s bullying.

      Whether or not this looks appalling to the rest of the world, the point I hopefully put across was that a lot of things that we do in our own countries look appalling to others who do not understand our culture. Cultural cruelty is always a matter of perception, it’s impossible to force change upon an entire culture overnight or attempt to bend them to our way of thinking and think this will prove instantly effective.
      Meg Jerrard recently posted…Things You Should Know About Staying in Australian HotelsMy Profile

  29. Wow. This is an article that at first glance seems incredibly balanced, insightful and full of great and important information about a controversial topic.
    That’s not the point. Anyone can write a balanced,insightful article about any heinous, inhuman action and bleed all morality, global conscience and ultimate truth right out of it. You could probably have penned a wonderful yarn about slavery (culture and commerce vs.murder,torture and genocide?), Hitler’s Final Solution (see above), traditional foot binding( torture,misogyny and sexual violence) or female circumcision ( again, see above) and have people nodding and saying, “hey, that doesn’t sound so bad.”
    I get it. You can write. You can research and put facts together in a string that people can wear and kind of feel better about their choices around the destruction of sentient beings, I will never change my mind on seeing this slaughter as anything more than murder. But you really lost me at your ignorant, and frankly embarrassing, irresponsible assertion that nobody has the right to tell the Faroese what to do on ‘their land’. Dude. Guess what. Using that line of argument, it’s the pilot whales’ ocean. And thank God you weren’t around to talk people out of ending slavery, fighting back against Jewish extermination or standing up against the oppression of the LGBT community.
    Dig yourself out of your revert of privilege and join the human race, and every other lifeform that deserves to live on whatever planet we have left.

    • “Incredibly balanced, insightful and full of great and important information about a controversial topic.” Kind of is the whole point 😉 You’ve got organizations currently running around promoting an end to the whale hunt without any clue about why it occurs, spreading incorrect and inaccurate information, so not sure how you believe that making a decision based on the actual facts of a situation is not the point.

      Not sure how you possibly think that slavery, LGBT rights and the Jewish extermination are relevant topics to this specific conversation, because they’re not by any stretch of the imagination, but good attempt making it seem like you had something productive to say.

      If you had actually taken in the article without getting hung up on my personal points, you would have realized that I don’t encourage people to change their minds. That was very obviously not the point of my article, as it presented both sides.

      The argument I do make, just to reiterate as you seemed to have conveniently skimmed over this to go off on your tangent about why I’m personally a bad human being, is that if you DO disagree with the whale hunt, there is a very specific way to approach this very fragile situation, and it’s not via an aggressive approach.

      Because as I mention, those who have consumed all of the above information and are still set on actually making a positive difference have been smart enough to realize that the only way to change something so deeply rooted in tradition is to promote education and open a passive dialogue about the negative consequences. Promote whale tourism as a means of economic relief instead of food. Go over and open dialogue about the health consequences of the meat.

      And if your response to my argument about the Faroese owning their right to the land is that it’s the pilot whales ocean, then why is it absolutely fine and dandy that they’re being poisoned in the ocean to begin with. No-one seems to give an absolute damn about that, but we’re all so passionate about not having the right to kill them as a source of food.

      As one of the Faroese gentlemen said quoted in my article, why is it acceptable for the whales to be poisoned in their own environment as long as no-one kills and eats them. Step one to saving these whales would be coming up with preventative measure to poisoning them. Which is not being done by the Faroes. It’s being done by us in our cushy urban environments, who are then passing judgement on how they source their food. We’re creating one of the very issues for why we’re campaigning against the kill.

    • You have to admit that the argument that the whales shouldn’t be poisoned with mercury rings a little false from people arguing that they should have their spinal cords severed with knives. The logic is tortured.

    • Hi Erin

      The point of the whales are being poisoned in their own environment is not so much a point that the grind should continue, rather a note that there is a certain level of hypocrisy when western nations leading a lifestyle which is poisoning whales, though then taking a stand that the Faroese shouldn’t use them for food.

      Hope that clears it up 🙂
      Meg Jerrard recently posted…Things You Should Know About Staying in Australian HotelsMy Profile

  30. Poorly written and even more poorly reasoned. The pilot whales belong to themselves, not to the Faroese barbarians. Murdering cetaceans should stop immediately, and is to be condemned.

    • Well Doug it’s said to hear that you’re letting your own personal bias blind you to educating yourself on the facts of the situation, because let’s be honest, even the woman in the comment above yours who equates culling animals for food purposes with genocide/slavery/etc and likened me to supporting the Jewish extermination agreed that it was well written. So really, saying that this article is poorly written and reasoned isn’t even your opinion, you’re just wrong.

      Also, you’re a little deluded if you thought that you would post a comment here and not have me call you uneducated for using the word barbarian. I’ll copy a quote you likely missed again for you:

      “But those who spout hate speech online; those who intentionally promote misinformation, ignorantly take myth for fact, and spread propaganda aiming to smear an entire society in the world media, these people do not achieve a thing, and it this kind of barbaric ignorance which is worse than the slaughter of pilot whales themselves.”

      That’s you.

      So how about instead of blindly “condemning” like so many other armchair activists do, you jump out of your armchair and realize that yelling words at a computer screen makes zero difference, and if you bothered to open your mind and form an actual argument which approaches this situation passively you could actually maybe make a positive difference in the world.

      But for the meantime, have fun trolling the internet and see how far that gets you.

  31. Human race is so arrogant to believe that everything on earth belongs to it? Good. This is why it is doomed to exinction. In Italy there’s a town where once a year, for tradition, people shoot an ham. But stupid traditions remains stupid traditions. I don’t think this is about imperialism or whatever you said early, it’s about doing the right thing. 3000 millions people around the world dying for malnutrition, but “first world countries” feed chickens and pigs instead of children. This is just unbelievable. Is irrational, isnt it? If every field on the planet were destinated to human food, theres no more hungry people. This is a scientific and demostrable fact. Grindadrap is only a piece in this sick model of food consumption.

    • Hi Marco – I’m not sure I follow your comments honestly because they seem to have nothing to do with the actual grind. You have left what seem to be a string of ranting statements which don’t relate to anything I discussed, and jump all over the place.

      For instance the Faroese don’t believe the whales belong to them – they have a very keen sense of being connected to nature which is why animals on and off the island roam free during the course of their life. However if they have to kill for food, for survival then they will do so. The Faroese do not “feed chikens and pigs instead of children” – they do not raise animals for the slaughter – if they have the opportunity to catch wild food for their survival they will. Which is why it IS imperialism for a Western country who DOES feed pigs and chickens to come across and say that the way they source their food is wrong.

      The grind is actually a much more ethical model of food consumption than breeding chickens and pigs into Western slaughterhouses where they live terrible, horrible lives. The Faroese model of food consumption is very much free range, and they only take what they need.

      While there may well be stupid traditions out there, this was a tradition which was done purely for survival. So hardly falls into the category of being stupid.

    • Hi Megan. What I said is part of a bigger talk, yes, but it’s indeed inherent to what you wrote in your article.
      We live in a modern world, where exist a strong and evolved system of logistic and transportation of goods. Everything can arrive at the other side of the world. I think Faroese people take advantage of this system, importing what a modern human being need. Why have it to be different with their food?

      Here nobody says that raise animals for slaughtering is a good nor ethical practice. And yes, I agree with you, probably from a rational point of view Grindadrap is sustainable (probably, because the links of IUCN you have posted they have very confused or no data at all), but you have also to agree with me that Faroese people don’t need whales to survive in 2015, like we don’t need animals from husbandry.

      Also, you are confusing countries with peoples when you wrote about imperialism and western countries. I’m not aware of any government that sentence Grindadrap, people do.

      I believe every single word you wrote, I believe that Faroese people respect nature and animals from their point of view, which is made from their ancient traditions. But animals are not objects, they feel emotions and they have a soul like us. We are at the top of food chain and we decide who lives and who dies, and I think that this great responsability need to be driven by ethical thinking instead of industrial or economical one.

      In 2015 there’s no real reason to hunt whales for survival. So, I’m sorry, but in my opionion stupid traditions remain stupid traditions.

    • Hi Marco, thanks for putting your thoughts into something a bit clearer for me. I agree with you, yes, we live in a world where today there is very easy access to importation including modern foods, and yes, there are supermarkets across the Faroe Islands which sell enough food that the whale hunt could technically stop and they wouldn’t starve. So I do acknowledge, and did so in the article too, that in 2015 they don’t need the meat strictly for survival anymore, and what was once a tradition vital to survival is now largely continued as an emotional attachment to cultural heritage.

      I would say that it is important to note however that the grind does still mean a large economical relief for many of the local communities, as it is freely distributed food, and the cost of imported goods considering their very isolated environment is far more expensive than the food we have access to in other parts of the world. So there is that to consider when forming an opinion too.

      I see your point re confusing imperialism with countries v people, and yes, it very much is people who condemn instead of countries at large, the point I was trying to make is that it I find it wrong that people think they have the right to try and push their own ethics and morals on a society without having made any effort to understand the other side. That is what I mean when I’m talking about imperialism – those individuals who do come from a country which slaughters chikens, pigs, etc, though they’re happy to condemn a society on the other side of the world before standing up for what’s happening in their own. Granted, there are a lot of activists who are vegetarian, and who do take a stand for animal right everywhere, though I’ve found that the vast majority of people who spout the crazy hatred online and aren’t able to hold a proper discussion or don’t care about hearing civil arguments and debate, these people generally seem to then go back to their burgers which for me seems very hypocritical and contradictory.

      So my main point in writing this article isn’t to necessarily convince you one way or the other, it’s mainly to make it known that there are actually two sides to the story, this isn’t black and white, and whether or not you do think it’s a stupid tradition, we need to at least acknowledge that there are other opinions out there also which are valid too.

      As I mentioned, the only way to change this specific situation is through passive dialogue and educational discussions and debate. Not via the aggressive actions that far too many people seem willing to take up without a clue.

      Thanks for leaving your thoughts 🙂

  32. Hello,
    I think your article is terribly biased and naive. I understand your point, yet I totally do not agree.
    You end up your article by saying that the grind doesn’t need to happen anymore but since it’s an emotional tradition, it takes time and convincing to end it. No, my friend. Faroe people are adults and a civilized world and need to apply international law as everybody did.
    I don’t think that in 2015 an endangered species should succumb to what you define as a “shepherd community” just because it’s an ancient tradition and it’s legal in a small country.
    It is NOT legal in the EU. Faroe is in the EU. Denmark is in the EU and supports it with its military and police. Personally I think it’s savage and it has to stop but it’s the international law that really matters.

    • Hi Janzo, thankyou for sharing your view. However the article is neither bias or naive as it presents much factual information and multiple points of view. Bias means you present an unbalanced point of view and let your personal feelings cloud the facts. That is obviously not the case here as much as our opinions may vary. Nativity means showing a lack of experience, wisdom, or judgement, which once again, is obviously not the case considering we have done extensive research on this topic, and actually traveled to the Faroe Islands where we sat down with and interviewed whalers, international protestors against the grind, environmentalists on the ground, and local Faroese who want the grind to end.

      So just because your opinion differs from mine, that doesn’t mean that it is bias or naive. It just means that it’s different.

      Your main point here is that it’s the international law which really matters. This doesn’t apply to the Faroe Islands, as they are not actually part of the EU, and the reason why no-one will intervene is because whaling is actually legal here. The Faroe Islands are an autonomous nation – a self governing country within the Danish Realm. They act independently of Denmark in all areas of self government, which includes the conservation and management of fish and whale stocks within the 200-mile fisheries zone, and it is important to understand that an essential feature of the Faroese foreign policy, is the fact that they chose to remain outside the European Union when Denmark chose to enter as a member state. While Denmark may be a member of the EU where whale hunting for commercial purposes has been prohibited through international treaties since the 1980’s, the Faroe Islands are not.

      The problem with people including Denmark in all of this is because people don’t understand the relation between Denmark and the Faroe Islands. There are some areas where the Faroese Government rules completely, Denmark has nothing to do with it, and that is, for example, what is in the Ocean.

      This has been the role of the Faroese parliament for a long, long time, what is in the ocean, and the only thing that Denmark does here is to show the rights to the Faroe Islands, which is part of the constitution. Their police, of course, are Danish. They do not have a military in the Faroese. When people say the Danish military has become involved with the grind, the police have asked them for help. They are patrolling the sea area of the Faroe Islands protecting Danish Authority over Danish ground.

      But they will not meddle in Faroese affairs. Especially since there is no international trading from the Faroe Islands and whaling is noncommercial. It is basically just like the whaling is in Greenland, it’s only for our own consumption.
      The biggest issue with whaling in the Faroe Islands is that the practice is legal, and only the Faroese can amend their laws. As mentioned above, despite ties to Denmark, the islands do not form part of the European Union, and are therefore not party to international treaties which outlaw whaling.

      Hope that clears some things up for you.

    • Also…as I mentioned in the article…the pilot whale is not an endangered species, and this is an internationally recognized fact.

  33. today is just a disgusting tradition.
    no excuse

    • Well we quite obviously disagree.

  34. Dear writer you write “without attempt to understand their way of life. This is cultural imperialism at its worst”
    There are no needs to understand something not legal. They can have all traditions possible, but those has to be LEGAL.
    There are governments, whose job,is to make laws and to make those respected.
    There is really no justification in understanding their culture, as it is not legal..would be enough that police, instead of join to this grindadrap, had their job done!

    • Hi Nicola – whaling in the Faroe Islands is actually legal, so there is a need to understand it, and it is not the job of the police to stop a practice which is not against the law.

      European law does not apply to the Faroe Islands, as they are not actually part of the EU. This is why Denmark will not intervene. Because it is legal here, and outside the realm of European jurisdiction. In addition, the islands are not in violation of any international laws as they do not export the meat.

      To clear some things up for you, the Faroe Islands are an autonomous nation – a self governing country within the Danish Realm. They act independently of Denmark in all areas of self government, which includes the conservation and management of fish and whale stocks within the 200-mile fisheries zone, and it is important to understand that an essential feature of the Faroese foreign policy, is the fact that they chose to remain outside the European Union when Denmark chose to enter as a member state. While Denmark may be a member of the EU where whale hunting for commercial purposes has been prohibited through international treaties since the 1980’s, the Faroe Islands are not.

      The problem with people including Denmark in all of this is because people don’t understand the relation between Denmark and the Faroe Islands. There are some areas where the Faroese Government rules completely, Denmark has nothing to do with it, and that is, for example, what is in the Ocean.

      This has been the role of the Faroese parliament for a long, long time, what is in the ocean, and the only thing that Denmark does here is to show the rights to the Faroe Islands, which is part of the constitution. Their police, of course, are Danish. They do not have a military in the Faroese. When people say the Danish military has become involved with the grind, the police have asked them for help. They are patrolling the sea area of the Faroe Islands protecting Danish Authority over Danish ground.

      But they will not meddle in Faroese affairs. Especially since there is no international trading from the Faroe Islands and whaling is noncommercial. It is basically just like the whaling is in Greenland, it’s only for our own consumption.

      The biggest issue with whaling in the Faroe Islands is that the practice is legal, and only the Faroese can amend their laws. As mentioned above, despite ties to Denmark, the islands do not form part of the European Union, and are therefore not party to international treaties which outlaw whaling.

      Hope that clears some things up for you.

  35. Thank you so much for your article, it really cleared my vision about this phenomenon. As you said, there is a lot of misinformation and we need to understand both point on views.

    Thanks,
    Bruno

    • Hi Bruno, thanks for stopping by and reading this article with an open mind.

      I’m very glad to hear that you agree on the point of considering all points of view before taking a stance, and on the importance of cutting through the misinformation which circulates so virally.

      Wishing you all the best.

  36. You are uncivilized and barbaric people ? killer. Stop the horror!!! Your country is not nice because the people are orrible.

    • Not quite sure why you think posting here is a direct line to the Faroese people, MY country just FYI is Australia.

      To address your ridiculous ignorance though, feel free to head back up to the top of the article, this paragraph was for you. Because with idiotic statements like that, you’re worse than what you think of the Faroese.

      “But those who spout hate speech online; those who intentionally promote misinformation, ignorantly take myth for fact, and spread propaganda aiming to smear an entire society in the world media, these people do not achieve a thing, and it this kind of barbaric ignorance which is worse than the slaughter of pilot whales themselves.”

  37. Sorry, but in a civil nation we cannot call ‘tradition’ this slaughter.
    I’m a traveller, a big traveller and I will never take myself in Faroe Island, and you don’t imagine how much people avoid come visiting your country for your ‘tradition’.

    • Hi Michael, feel free to read the article a little more properly. Tourism boycotts don’t make a shred of difference when it comes to the whale hunt debate. The islands have never prospered off tourism, it makes up a tiny percentage of their economy which doesn’t even compare to other sources. They have prospered isolated from the outside world for centuries, and will continue to do so if they must. If you actually care about stopping whaling in the country you’ll realize that this approach is counterproductive and will employ a more proactive method like education, or promoting whale tourism.

      Though I’ve already written about all of that in quite extensive detail above, so as I said, feel free to read the article a little more properly.

      As an Australian, and also a big traveler, I will happily take myself back to the Faroe Islands any time. Every country in the world has practices and traditions that people aren’t going to agree with. It’d be a very small world if you were to boycott them all.

  38. Hi meg,
    I read your writings very well, I really do.
    When I told you that I’ll never take myself to Faroes’, I’ve never thought about the economic side, and I’ve never thought about it in every single trip I made in my life. Visit a country is ‘touch’ the local culture, ‘feel’ the tradition, and if you think of yourself as a big traveller, I have to say you: no, you are not.
    But above all, I don’t want to convince you of how a civil nation should be, but you know, what you call ‘tradition’ is strictly forbidden in Europe by a 1979 law of the European Union. I’t be a very small world if every nation break the laws as they want.

    • Hi Michael

      First of all, telling me I’m not a big traveler just because we have different beliefs makes no sense at all. “Travel” is not a contest, however for arguments sake, I think after having traveled for 10 years, most of which has been full time, over 40 countries of where I have lived, worked and studied, that I’ve earned the right to say I’m a “big traveler”. Notwithstanding that this travel blog is my full time job, so travel is what I do for a living.

      As I said though, that’s not a contest, and is quite irrelevant to discussing this issue, so I’m not quite sure why you keep throwing it in.

      Though while we’re on the point since you keep bringing it up, a “big traveler”, has enough world experience to realize that traveling requires an open mind, and that they must free themselves of exclusive rights to an absolute “truth”, and accept that every thought is purely subjective and as valid as your own. You need not incorporate other people’s beliefs into your life, but the least you can do is listen and respect their right to differ in opinion.

      On your point of the law, whaling in the Faroe Islands is actually legal, and it is therefore not the job of the Danish police to stop a practice which is not against the law.

      European law does not apply to the Faroe Islands, as they are not actually part of the EU. This is why Denmark will not intervene. Because it is legal here, and outside the realm of European jurisdiction. In addition, the islands are not in violation of any international laws as they do not export the meat.

      To clear some things up for you, the Faroe Islands are an autonomous nation – a self governing country within the Danish Realm. They act independently of Denmark in all areas of self government, which includes the conservation and management of fish and whale stocks within the 200-mile fisheries zone, and it is important to understand that an essential feature of the Faroese foreign policy, is the fact that they chose to remain outside the European Union when Denmark chose to enter as a member state. While Denmark may be a member of the EU where whale hunting for commercial purposes has been prohibited through international treaties since the 1980’s, the Faroe Islands are not.

      The problem with people including Denmark in all of this is because people don’t understand the relation between Denmark and the Faroe Islands. There are some areas where the Faroese Government rules completely, Denmark has nothing to do with it, and that is, for example, what is in the Ocean.

      This has been the role of the Faroese parliament for a long, long time, what is in the ocean, and the only thing that Denmark does here is to show the rights to the Faroe Islands, which is part of the constitution. Their police, of course, are Danish. They do not have a military in the Faroese. When people say the Danish military has become involved with the grind, the police have asked them for help. They are patrolling the sea area of the Faroe Islands protecting Danish Authority over Danish ground.

      But they will not meddle in Faroese affairs. Especially since there is no international trading from the Faroe Islands and whaling is noncommercial. It is basically just like the whaling is in Greenland, it’s only for our own consumption.

      The biggest issue with whaling in the Faroe Islands is that the practice is legal, and only the Faroese can amend their laws. As mentioned above, despite ties to Denmark, the islands do not form part of the European Union, and are therefore not party to international treaties which outlaw whaling.

      Which is why people around the world who wish to change this situation really do need to sit down and understand the issues properly, because there are many complexities that people don’t bother to understand before rushing in with their pickets and trying to protest.

      People with objections will have more ground for those objections once this is an illegal practice. For it to become an illegal practice, the Faroese have to change their own laws. For them to change their own laws there has to be a sway in local opinion. For THAT to happen, international outsiders have to be willing to head into the islands with an open mind, ready to debate and discuss in a passive and peaceful way. International aggression won’t end the grind. Local education will. Though the international community needs a lot of that education first.

  39. Hi Meg, I’ve jumped lot of time reading your boring reply…I have to say that you’re right in a thing: we have different beliefs and that’s the reason why I wanna let you stay with your opinion, the opinion of an aussie woman who doesn’t live in Europe ( keep in mind that Europe and European Union are not the same thing, but Faroes are in Europe, and you CANT know how sad it’s the grindagrap argument for european people, no, you can’t know. Probably you didn’t feel this sadness in your vacation in Europe. Talk about education in an article that speak of grindagrap is simply funny.
    Greetings

    • Haha, my response was “boring” because you tried to make an argument based on incorrect law. Which goes to my point that the majority of people get too caught up in the emotional side of this and don’t have a clue what they’re talking about when it comes to making arguments against it. Hence the need for education.

      Europe can be sad all it wants, but if facts are too “boring” for you, I really don’t have any sympathy for your sadness.

  40. Why do you delete my posts, it’s not good for a blogger!
    You say you live of this, so you have to face critics!

    • Hi Michael, let’s get one thing clear. You ran out of relevant arguments and criticism for my opinion on the actual topic of the post so you started to resort to personal attacks. You became an internet troll.

      I am more than happy to engage in civilized debate and take criticism as I’ve proven above. I don’t care if you agree with me or not, and I’ll happily chat with you about your stance, however this is MY platform, and you WILL speak to me with respect otherwise your comments will be filed where they belong, which is in the trash.

  41. ‘Europe can be sad all it wants, but if facts are too “boring” for you, I really don’t have any sympathy for your sadness.’
    This is what you call respect?
    Trust me, I don’t wanna spent my time in your blog, which I really don’t like.
    I just wrote my opinion, the opinion of the most of european people ( I’ve found your blog in some european articles in which people were disgusted from your words ), and you just couldn’t know it.
    Greetings

  42. Amazing article Megan! I was looking for an unbiased and well-researched article to combat the typical “this is barbaric!” post. And found this one!

    I think there will always still be people who will not understand other cultures. I love how the Faroese have kept their traditions alive, despite modernization in other areas. I think they’re probably better off for it… When in the US/UK, we barely see how our food is processed, and it’s full of preservatives and barely even ‘food’ anymore… I agree, it’s easy for people to be upset with things they don’t understand. This is like how the US/UK eat cattle, but in India it’s mostly sacred. Or how in India, China, Korea, etc, they might eat dogs, cats, guinea pigs, but Americans especially feel this is barbaric. We cannot place our own worldview on other cultures.

    Also, I think a lot of your commentators are missing that you’ve had correspondence with at least one real Faroese person? (Correct me if I’m wrong.)

    Anyways, great work. And also great work arguing in the comments! Hehe.

    • Hi Heather, thanks for your comment – so glad that we could provide you with something to read which wasn’t blatantly hateful 😀

      I totally agree with everything you have said – cultural cruelty is very much a matter of perception; visitors to any corner of the globe must free themselves of exclusive rights to an absolute “truth”, and accept that every thought is purely subjective and as valid as your own.

      We don’t need to incorporate other people’s beliefs into our life, but the least we can do is listen and respect their right to differ in opinion.

      And yes, before I traveled to the Faroes I was in contact with a large number of people from different sides of this debate, and then while in the Faroes I sat down with members of the Sea Shepherd, men from the whaling organization, and then locals who were fighting peacefully to change opinion and bring the tradition to an end.

      Glad you enjoyed the post … happy travels!

  43. El articulo esta bien escrito, es informativo.Pero cosas como estas no se pueden justificar, tan crueles y desagradables.Sigue siendo una masacre,es el sufrimiento de otro ser vivo y ninguna tradicion que sea realmente “humana” puede causar tanto dolor a otro ser viviente…Da tristeza, verguenza y pena.

    • Hi Laura – thanks for stopping by. I’m not fluent in Spanish, but Google has given me the following translation of your comment:

      The article is well written , it is informativo. Pero how are you things can not be justified , so cruel and desagradables.Sigue be a slaughter , is the suffering of another living being and no tradition that is truly “human ” can cause as much pain to another living thing … Da sadness, shame and sorrow.

      Glad you found the article to be well written and informative. I respect your view that you do not stand behind the grind. The reality is though that there are many, many traditions around the world which inflict pain on other living things – any country who manufactures meat, whether that’s chicken, cow, sheep, or pig, inflicts suffering to some degree on an animal in order to source food.

      So the grind is really no different. Which is why I find the huge outcry to be so very hypocritical when eating meat and manufacturing it in a very cruel way is so prevalent worldwide. We can’t just pick and choose.

      Why is it ok to say that we can inflict suffering on a pig, but not a whale. Or a chicken, but not a whale. Shouldn’t every animal life be treated with equal value? It’s still a life after all. In this instance it’s much more ethical to kill one whale and feed a village, than to kill 500 chickens to feed the same.

  44. I notice while your article is very well balanced regarding Faoese culture it ignores the whales well being and the fact that they are hugely sentient creatures and on a par with humans at an emotional level if not higher.

    • Hi Dermot, thanks for taking the time to read my post.

      I have to disagree with you though, I don’t believe that this article ignores the whales well being, and I did in fact address the point that whales are sentient creatures, and the fact that the Faroese belief is that the value of life is not based on the level of understanding or intelligence or nervous system capacity. Whether you’re killing a chicken, a sheep or a whale, they believe that the value of life is all the same.

      This section of the article is under the subheading “The Faroese Respect For Nature” if you missed it.

      Thanks!
      Meg Jerrard recently posted…Songs of Summer: Tunes For Your Travel Playlist + WIN a £50 iTunes Voucher!My Profile

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