Cruise Industry Supports Mass Murder of Whales in Faroe Islands

Faroe Islands Whale SlaughterA reader of Cruise Law News asked me last week what I thought of cruise lines sailing to Denmark's Faroe Islands (sometimes called Faeroe Islands) where they slaughter pilot whales. I didn't know anything about the issue, but I promised that I would look into it. 

This weekend I read up on what I now feel comfortable calling the evil, murderous Faroe Islands. I am absolutely disgusted by what I read and by the horrific images I saw.

Around 1,000 pilot whales are killed each year in the Faroe Islands. But these are not far out at sea murders by huge Japanese ships away from civilization. These are well attended sporting events where the whales are chased into a harbor and killed by the locals with knives while their family members cheer them on. The locals call it the "Grindadráp Grind." I call it the killing of defenseless mammals for fun by sick sociopaths. Here's what one person described:

The whales "are dragged to the shallow water, where participants in the kill then wade in the sea to around waist height. There they are slaughtered with traditional knives whose blades are usually 16 to 19 cm (6.3 to 7.5 in) long. Usually two deep cuts are made on either side of the animal’s neck, just behind the blow hole, causing the head to drop forward; a third cut is then made through the middle of the neck down to the carotid arteries and spinal cord, which are severed. After a period of violent thrashing the animal is paralyzed and loses consciousness, dying of blood loss in most cases. With Faroe Islands Whale Slaughterthis the sea turns bright red with blood."

Think this is horrific? The images are far, far worse

How do we stop this evil? One way is to boycott the islands. There are numerous cruise lines which still cruise there, notwithstanding efforts to persuade them to call on other ports.  

Change.org has a petition to stop Carnival-owned Holland America Line from stopping at the islands. They have branded their efforts as #GRINDSTOP, a term started I believe by the Sea Shepherd organization. The petition is addressed to Stein Kruse who is, in my opinion, the epitome of a pompous, indifferent cruise executive if there ever were one. The petition is also directed to other uppity-ups at HAL who obviously could care less about whales as long as the money generated by cruise excursions to the islands is an issue.

Care2petitions also has a petition to stop cruise lines from supporting the slaughter in the Faroes. It is addressed to Carnival-owned Cunard and P&O Cruises, as well as Fred Olsen Cruises and Cruise & Maritime. 

The Dodo also has a campaign against the hunt and a petition which you can sign.

The official Sea Shepherd Anti-Grind campaign is here.

There are other cruise lines which have scheduled port call in the Faroe Islands. Travel agents tell me that Royal Caribbean Cruises and Royal Caribbean-owned Azamara, as well as Princess Cruises and Faroe Islands Whale SlaughterNorwegian Cruise Line (NCL) sail to the Faroe Islands and showed me itineraries confirming that they sail there. 

Disney took the Faroe Islands off its schedule recently and was smart enough to see the storm of public opinion forming against cruise lines supporting such a place.

Pilot whales are highly intelligent. They sense fear when they and their pods are under such a vicious attack. Mother whales are gutted and their baby whales ripped out. The violence is unconscionable. So is cruising there on a family vacation.

Please take a moment and sign the petitions. Make a promise to yourself not to sail on a cruise there. Complain to your travel agent, and tell the cruise lines to stop supporting the Faroe Islands. It's the least we can do to stop the carnage and suffering.

Photo Credits: GreenTravelife - above; Sea Shepherd - bottom. 

Have a thought? Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Update: Faroese law actually codifies this barbaric practice

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Comments (32) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Michael O'Mahoney - July 27, 2015 10:28 AM

Barbaric behaviour from humans who are supposed to be at the top of the food chain. Using cultural history as an excuse in this day and age is not acceptable.
It is slaughter pure and simple, and needs to be stopped!

Cruiser - July 27, 2015 10:59 AM

Just as a point of clarification, Disney never actually stopped at the Faroe Islands. It was on a schedule for a new itinerary, but was removed quickly and they never stopped there. https://www.thedodo.com/smart-move-disney-drops-faroe--529059318.html

Luz Hunter - July 27, 2015 1:19 PM

I think maybe take it a step further and ask people NOT to travel on any ships belonging to the cruise lines that go to the Faroe Islands, period. Whether its to Alaska, Caribbean, Mediterranean, wherever. Boycott the cruise line, not just those ships going to see this senseless massacre.

David Cowan - July 27, 2015 1:27 PM

I have sailed to the Faroe Islands. After reading this, I doubt I will go back.

I hear a lot on this blog about places I should not cruise to. I'm wondering if Mr. Walker has some recommendations about port destinations that I should support and get my travel agent to book for me.

Omar Todd - July 27, 2015 2:19 PM

Well written and completely agree. Thanks for bringing this issue further into the light Jim.

Alison Church - July 27, 2015 3:19 PM

Thank you for your advocacy in having entertainment/vacation that is sourced in a humane belief system.

Much of the justification for this barbaric act seems to be based on population killed during the grind vs population reported to be present.

Having done some research yesterday, I found that the population of long fin pilot whales has not been assessed in 26 years! In 1989, the population was said to be ~780,000.

http://www.nammco.no/marine-mammals/whales-and-dolphins-cetaceans/new-long-finned-pilot-whale/current-abundance-and-trends/

I have copied excerpts from another site,
http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/9250/0 as follows in quotation marks:

"The IWC, ICES and NAMMCO have concluded, that with an estimated subpopulation size of 778 000 (CV=0.295) in the eastern North Atlantic and approximately 100 000 around the Faroes (Buckland et al. 1993; NAMMCO 1997) the Faroese catch is probably sustainable."

But what if over the past 26 years, the population has dropped significantly, due to gillnets, incidental takes, etc (evidence affirming follows), doesn't it stand to reason that population data more recent than 26 years ago is required before the massacre continues.

"Incidental catches are reported from Newfoundland, the Mediterranean and the Atlantic coast of France. In British waters, long-finned pilot whales are accidentally caught in gillnets, purse seines and in trawl fisheries. Very few are reported taken incidentally in fisheries in the Southern Hemisphere (Reyes 1991). However, according to Bernard and Reilly (1999), there are probably more pilot whales taken incidentally than are presently documented. On the east coast of the USA, the foreign Atlantic mackerel fishery was responsible for the take of 141 pilot whales in 1988. This fishery was suspended in early May of that year as a direct result of this anomalously high take. A 1990 workshop to review mortality of cetaceans in passive nets and traps documented an annual kill of 50-100 G. melas off the Atlantic coast of France. Long-finned pilot whales are also known to be taken incidentally in trawl and gillnet fisheries in the western North Atlantic, and in swordfish driftnets in the Mediterranean (Olson and Reilly 2002)."

"Zerbini and Kotas (1998) reported on cetacean-fishery interactions off southern Brazil. The pelagic driftnet fishery is focused on sharks (families Sphyrnidae and Carcharinidae) and incidentally caught at least 15 Globicephala melas in 1995 and 1997. The authors conclude that the driftnet fishery may be an important cause of cetacean mortality in that region."

"Although there is considerable controversy regarding the absolute level of declines, there is good evidence of large-scale reductions in many predatory fish populations (e.g., Baum et al. 2003, 2005; Sibert et al. 2006; Polacheck 2006) and over-fishing and collapse of several important “prey” fish stocks world-wide (e.g., Jackson et al. 2001). The effects of such fish population reductions and subsequent ecosystem changes on world-wide populations of long-finned pilot whales are unknown but could result in population declines. Commercial fisheries for squids are widespread in the western North Atlantic. Target species for these fisheries are squids eaten by pilot whales, again raising the possibility of prey depletion."

"This species, like beaked whales, is likely to be vulnerable to loud anthropogenic sounds, such as those generated by navy sonar and seismic exploration (Cox et al. 2006). Predicted impacts of global climate change on the marine environment may affect long-finned pilot whales, and may induce changes in the species’ range, abundance and/or migration patterns (Learmonth et al. 2006)."

If data that justifies the brutal slaughter of these beings is 26 years old and of questionable validity at present time, is there a way to stop the slaughter (moratorium on additional kills) at least until there is current population data?

I think the passenger pigeon numbered 3-5 billion before its man made extinction. What if the pilot whales killed this past month represent more of what was the population (taken 26 years ago) than thought?

Thank you again.

Anita - July 27, 2015 6:43 PM

All cruise ships need to stop going there until the Faroes decide to stop the slaughter. If there's no cruise ships there income for them. Hit them where it hurts!

June Bird Killington - July 27, 2015 6:50 PM

Thank you for opening your eyes to this evil and horror. May many more speak up and stop the continual Faroe Island whale slaughter.

susy costello - July 27, 2015 7:11 PM

To alison church. There is absolutely no justification period for the brutal slaying of these highly intelligegent social and sentient beings. If anything is overpopulated its humans. Should we start slaughtering them to? These barbarians have no right in this day and age to carry on this sick and twisted behaviour and if you are thinking this should be population control you should take a look at the videos. Its quite clear it is just for sport and nothing more.

Valerie Peters - July 27, 2015 7:14 PM

Thank you Jim Walker for being so precise and accurate. You didn't sugar coat this whale slaughter like some journalists do, taking sides with the locals for sake of their "tradition" and finding nothing wrong with decimating entire pods of pilot whales in one slaughter. They are also destroying/erasing the evolutionary gene pools therein. Although the subject is grim, I enjoyed reading a well written artcle by an intelligent person. You actually took the time to research the facts. I have signed all petitions.

Thank you

Kirsten Lassen-Smith - July 27, 2015 9:23 PM

Come to your senses, bloody Jesters and leave precious and endangered marine wildlife for future generations 👊🏻

Peggy Starr - July 28, 2015 12:59 AM

This is DISGUSTING. Why doesn't anyonestop them?????

Peggy Starr - July 28, 2015 1:03 AM

This is DISGUSTING. Why doesn't anyonestop them?????

Easa - July 28, 2015 4:30 AM

I wonder how can they call themselves civilized people and make fun of the others. When these people (I wanted to call them animals but it seems that animals are better than some human kind) train some others to slaughter children like what happens in Palestine gaza iraq Syria Yemen Africa and elsewhere (the killer's training is provided by mossad cia mi6 and other intells and the arab states money like Saudi Arabia and Qatar ) what can you expect when it comes to treating the animals.

Vanessa cox - July 28, 2015 5:28 AM

Leave these beautiful creatures alone in the ocean where they belong

Rich Spraycar - July 28, 2015 2:16 PM

Legal hunting in their own country.

Charles Russell - July 28, 2015 5:16 PM

"The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated."
Mahatma Gandhi

Martin Teece - July 28, 2015 6:28 PM

No Way on earth would we now visit these Isles or go to Denmark, lets hit them where it hurts...stop buying Danish and Faroe's products. Tradition is fine as long as you have money from tourists or we buy your goods, lets see how long your traditions hold up when you see the bottom line on those profits start to fall.

Syenna VMS WHITLEY - July 29, 2015 10:30 PM

This is a critical issue that MUST BE ADDRESSED IMEDIATLEY AND SWIFTLY WITH STIFF PENALTIES

Jürgen Ortmüller WDSF-Geschäftsführer - August 5, 2015 4:15 AM

Hello Jim,

the German "Whale and Protection Forum (WDSF)" faced for years the cruise companies AIDA, TUI Cruises and Hapag Lloyd order to stop the landings on the Faroe Islands. AIDA and Hapag Lloyd wrote then letters to the Prime Minister of the Faroe Islands - but without success, since the killing of pilot whales continues. We are now preparing a new international campaign against cruise ships which landing of the Faroe Islands yet (http://www.wdsf.eu/index.php/aktionen/faeroeer-walfang/aida-faeroeer-kreuzfahrten).

AIDA-Letter:
http://www.wdsf.eu/images/_faeroeer_walmord/AIDA.pdf

HapagLloyd-Letter:
http://www.wdsf.eu/images/_wdsf_download/HL_Premier.pdf

Thanks for your support to stop cruises and the killing of pilot whales and other dolphins on Faroe by
economic pressure.

Best
Jurgen Ortmuller
Manager of WDSF
E-Mail: ortmueller@me.com

Jacek - August 13, 2015 6:10 PM

Why European Union doesn't ban Faroe Island fishing market?

carol hamilton - August 25, 2015 5:03 AM

How can anyone condone taking tourists to this barbaric country. I would never use a cruise ship that called at this hell on earth!

Anne Adams - August 25, 2015 5:14 AM

As a member and supporter of Sea Shepherd I would also like to address the fact that the Faroese say that all the whale meat is for the consumption of the islanders. This is untrue

We have video evidence that whales that have been butchered have just been dumped in the ocean . It's like a whale graveyard down there.

Also if the pod they drive to shore is to small they drill holes in their dorsal fin and tag them so that next year when the pod is bigger they can track them. This barbaric slaughter of sentient creatures must be stopped

Please support our brave crew mates and shore crew by emailing the Danish government and the Faroese government .

Stand up for those that can't speak, but can feel

Cecília Leonardo - August 25, 2015 5:40 AM

When we Know what is wrong and we do nothing....we choose the side of these cruel people.
The Silence of the Gods is so revolting!

Katherine Denison - August 25, 2015 6:38 AM

Murderous lunkheads in a gorefest of creatures more intelligent than they? Off the list. Boycott.

dominique - August 25, 2015 6:12 PM

Thank you for your well-written article!

You covered a great deal of what is happening to pilot whales (and bottlenose as well as white sided dolphins) in the faroe islands and the comments also adress a lot of subjects related to this issue.

However, i'd like to point out another crucial point in why cruise ships (and tourists in general) ahould avoid these islands. in 2015 the grindalog (laws connected to the grind) was reformed, in a desperate effort to shush any opposition.

One of the new laws states that

EVERYONE WHO SPOTS WHALES OR DOLPHINS HAS TO REPORT THE SIGHTING TO THE LOCAL AUTHORITIES. IF YOU FAIL TO DO SO, YOU FACE UP TO 2 YEARS IN PRISON.

why do the authorities want you to call them if you see whales or dolphins? example: on the 23rd of july, some tourists were visiting the island of mykines which is mostly uninhabited and famous for its bird colonies. one might assume that these tourists enjoy observing animals alive and in their natural habitat. These tourists then saw a big pod of pilot whales swimming by the island (as there is almost nobody living there, they had a chance of slipping by unseen). the toursists however informed the locals (wel...if i saw a pod of whales/dolphins, i'd be happy and excited too and would tell people about it). boats went out, a grind was called and the hunt begun. 111 pilot whales were driven to the killing beach of bour and killed. (later the same day, 154 pilot whales were slaughtered on the killing beach of airgir, situated at the entrance of torshavn harbour, within eyesight of the cruise-liners dock).

So, if you travel to the faroe islands and you see whales or dolphins, you have two choices:
-not report them and go to prison for it
-report them and thereby sentencing them to death

Tourists travelling on their own can decide for themselves, whether they want to be guilty of either of the two.

Cruise liners should take responsibility and not expose their clients (and crew! )to this!

Thank you again.

Dominique

krun - August 25, 2015 10:01 PM

This is disgusting, this week they herded a family into the cove to "tag" them. One whale was hooked by one of the awful people there and the rest of her family would not leave without her. The Faroes chased the ones waiting and by the time she gained enough energy to escape, her family was gone. If you want to help, donate to The Sea Shepherd group, they have been on site trying to make a difference.

Marta - October 9, 2015 7:12 PM

the article mentiones that Princess Cruises visits Faroe Island, though I didnt find one single cruise in their itineraries which would sale there. I know they had cruises to Klaksvik in the past. Might they be a cruise line boycotting this place or is this coincident only? Does anyone else find any future cruise to Faroe by Princess Cruises on the internet?

William Carter - April 1, 2016 5:22 PM

Bloody, bestial, savages.. unspeakable sub-human cruelty.. Everyone who holidays in this slaughterhouse, shares responsibility for the blood and suffering of these gentle creatures.. and for the crimes of these execrable nordic savages..

Jane - April 13, 2017 9:52 AM

Hi Jim

I have posted a few of your articles on my FB page and have noticed others are starting to as well. That was my hope that once they read one article they would continue to explore.

I am wondering if you would be able to post an updated article advising which cruise lines still go to Faroe.
Is Holland America still going there?
Is Faroe still holding the Grind and how often?

Thank you!!

Mark Butcher - August 5, 2017 1:39 PM

I was considering a trip to the Faroe Islands, but that was until I stumbled upon this website. Needless to say that I will not be going there now. Sometimes there are no words to describe the wickedness of humankind.

Mark Butcher

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