Faroes warn anti-whaling campaigners

THE Faroese Government says it will take a tough line with any attempt to disrupt or halt the hunting of pilot whales around its coast.
In a statement it said it recognised the widespread international interest in whales and whaling in general, and the Faroese pilot whale drive in particular.
It also underlined the importance it had always placed on dialogue, freedom of speech and the right of all citizens, both in the Faroes and in all other countries, to express their views openly.
There have been repeated calls from conservationists to ban Faroese seafood, along with that of Iceland and Norway who also hunt whales.
But the Torshavn Government statement added sombrely: ‘Faroese authorities will not, however, tolerate the disruption of the pilot whale drive in the Faroe Islands, which is a legal, fully regulated and sustainable use of an abundant natural resource.
‘Pilot whales in Faroese waters continue to provide a valued source of food for the people of our marine-dependent nation, as they have done for centuries.
‘All meat involves the slaughter of animals. But most meat production today in industrialised countries is hidden well away from public view.
‘The Faroese pilot whale drive, by its very nature, takes place in the open, in authorised bays around the Faroes. As such it has been openly documented and discussed internationally for many years as a unique part of the Faroese way of life.’
It revealed that at the end of last month, activists representing the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society attempted to disrupt a whale drive in the bay of Sandur on the island of Sandoy, both on shore and in the water.
The authorities said the police dealt with the situation in a calm and effective manner, quickly averting what could otherwise have become a dangerous situation for the activists themselves, operating in an unfamiliar coastal environment.
‘Their actions could well have disrupted the organised procedures of the whale drive, thus prolonging it.
‘Fourteen activists were detained and all were released again within 24 hours to face hearings in the Court of the Faroe Islands for breaches of the whaling regulations. Vessels used in the incident have been confiscated, pending further legal proceedings.’
The group of 33 whales was beached at Sandur and killed swiftly in accordance with the regulations, said the government. The meat and blubber was shared free to the local residents and participants in the drive, as is the custom.