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Whale Killing is Humane, says Whaler

16 August, 2015


2015-08-15 17:37:20

By Hans J. Hermansen – Past president and board member for 22 years for the Faroese Pilot Whaler’s Association.

The entire population of Faroe Islands, undertaking their annual ritual, rushed from one whale bay to the other. In a killing spree, men, women and children partied for days as they merrily went about hacking whales to death for fun.

They slaughtered a few hundred sweet and intelligent marine mammals, who without GPS devices or other nautical assistance had strayed within these barbarians’ territorial waters.

And this is part of the Kingdom of Denmark. They do not need the meat and blubber up there. They can consume products from the Supermarket that other civilized people eat which is slaughtered behind closed doors without any visible blood to offend sensibilities.

This is pretty much the impression that many people have after seeing reports from the recent killing of pilot whales in the Faroe Islands. The source is footage is from Sea Shepherd designed to outrage viewers about this apparently offensive spectacle and getting them to dig deep into their pockets to support the dubious activities of “Captain” Paul Watson and his acolytes.

So we have bold headlines and graphic images all disseminated worldwide now amplified many times over by social media. Seemingly, in Anno Domini 2015, we have a phenomena which illustrate the philosopher Herbert Spencer’s (1820-1903) maxim “Opinion is ultimately determined by the feelings and not by the intellect.”

Thus, we let ourselves get enraged over what we see and experience, or rather: think we see and experience. We get the latest news served as ready meals and fast food suitably tailored for the purpose. And we consume indiscriminately and get enraged over the cruelty of these barbarians. It makes our blood boil.

I can state the following facts:

  • The pilot whale is not an endangered species (according to NAMMCO approx. 600,000-800,000 animals in the North Atlantic).
  •  Blubber and meat go for human consumption (exploitation: 53 percent of body weight).
  •  The killing method is humane (fastest method of killing of wild mammals, both on land and in water, IWC Glasgow 1992).
  •  Whaling is regulated (0.3 percent of the stock are killed annually- reproduction rate is 8 percent).
  •  Pilot whaling and killing methods are evaluated in the Faroe Islands.
  •  Pilot whaling is a completely random and non-commercial traditional hunting.
  •  With an effective and humane method of killing- we get the best meat/blubber.
  •  It is every hunter’s duty, honour and pride to kill any animal as quickly and humanely as possible.
  •  We would not kill these animals if the justification was merely based on cultural tradition, and the first three criteria were not satisfied.

Most of what we consume in the western world is killed behind closed doors in specialized slaughterhouses. These animals are transported to their deaths in special transports from their cells, where they have spent their lives. They have undoubtedly had a good life with a full stomach. Then we find the food ready-made in supermarkets. For example recently slaughtered battery hens, temptingly wrapped in a purpose-made ​​decorative coffin, just to cremate and consume.

Unfortunately, this type of mechanical process is not possible when we take 50-200 pilot whales a few times each year. And yes, it can be a dismaying spectacle with the blood flowing freely into the sea. We cannot hide that from the outside world nor do we try to do so.

“Opinion is ultimately determined by the feelings, and not by the intellect.”

Our attention, energy, intensity and intimacy is focused 100 percent on the job at hand during those few minutes a whale killing takes place. Afterwards, there is always an evaluation of the operation by the experienced pilot hunters, who are all trained in the job.

So, is whale killing very different from killing other animals? Are we Faroese so much different from other meat-eating people?

Or should we fall into line with the moralists and hypocrites, wash our hands of the dilemma and shout “Crucify!” Then let our heritage become neutralized and accessible only in the museums and art galleries?

But the life goes on. In 2015, how many people really think about where the animal that they eat comes from, or the killing method employed while they enjoy the exquisite product possibly with a cheeky glass of wine. And how social and civilized it is to chat on these occasions with friends and neighbours about all sorts of issues and future themes.

The topic of killing pilot whales has the potential for a healthy debate, but it but it would not hurt if it were spiced with a hint of truth. But, this is difficult when so many of today’s civilized people seem to gravitate to the famous words: If it is fact, then deny a fact!


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