The Faroe Islands mass slaughter of whales is back in the news again. Last month we did an article called Environmentalists Call for Cruise Lines Boycott, which discussed some of the issues around “the grind” which is derived from the local word Grindadráp. That article explored the topic, which has fierce supporters on both sides, of a traditional hunt that kills pilot whales. Environmental groups, including Sea Shepherd, started a campaign to force cruise lines to stop calling upon the islands claiming that by making port cruise lines are supporting the slaughters.
Two of the largest cruise lines from Germany have responded to the request and have removed the Fareo Islands from their sailings. AIDA and Hapag-Lloyd have reported they will no longer call on the islands. Both of these cruises lines have reported that this is not a new concern and they’ve been trying to work with the Faroe island’s Prime Minister to get the grind to stop. However, there was no progress.
Hapag- Lloyd Cruises is a subsidiary of Hapag-Lloyd AG and is integrated into the operations of TUI travel group, which is the largest travel company in the world. The cruise company had already reduced its port calls to the Faroe Islands with just one remaining for next year, but that port call has now been canceled.
“Hapag-Lloyd Cruises is committed to treating flora, fauna, and the marine ecosystem as well as all its creatures with respect,” Karl J. Pojer, the company’s Chief Executive Officer, said in an email. “We protect what fascinates us—it is therefore high in the interests of the company that whaling on the Faroe Islands is stopped.”
AIDA Cruise, which is one of the brands under the Carnival umbrella, has also canceled port calls. Monika Griefahn, AIDA’s Chief Sustainability Officer, said in an email that her company “expressly dissociates itself from whaling. Species conservation is an integral part of our sustainability strategy. Thus, AIDA Cruises has decided to cease approaching the Faroe Islands until further notice.”
Four other cruise lines; Princess, Royal Caribbean, Crystal, and Holland America, call on the Faroe Islands but have not commented on any plans to make changes. Princess Lines and Holland America lines are also brands of Carnival.
In items related to the recent grind, the Town of Wick in Caithness, Scotland, and Klaksvik, the second largest town in the Danish territory, have canceled their twin town agreements. Caithness Civic Leader Gail Ross and Highland Councillors Bill Fernie and Neil MacDonald wrote to Klaksvik’s mayor Jógvan Skorheim calling the killing “barbaric.”
The email said: “I and my two ward colleagues make reference to the recent slaughter of whales which took place in Bøur and Tórshavn, amongst other areas and whilst we note that this is not Klaksvik, I am afraid that the whole of the Faroe Islands has been tainted by these events. We do not agree that these events and the apparent joy it gave the townspeople is in any way linked to tradition.
There may have been reasons of culling for food in the past but in 2015 it is unnecessary and cruel. Cetaceans are sentient beings. They have feelings and emotions. To drive them on to a beach and slaughter them is barbaric. We do not subscribe to animal cruelty in any way and it saddens me to have to sever links with your beautiful town until such times as we get a full assurance that this atrocity has ceased.”
Klaksvik’s mayor responded furiously to the message from Scotland. He wrote: “We understand your letter as an ultimatum – if you’re asking us to choose between being twinned with Wick and our Faroese right to conduct sustainable whaling, you should know this choice is not hard for us to make.
It disappoints me to hear you don’t support us in our right to conduct whaling, seeing as it is indeed a part of the Faroese culture.”
Also, related to the grind, five Sea Shepherd volunteers have been convicted of violation of the local laws and are waiting sentencing. Other members of the group have been deported.
What do you think? Should the grind continue or should it cease?