Almost every year, bloody images of the Faroe Islands’ grindadráp are splashed across newspapers, with the practise damned as “a gruesome massacre”, “a barbaric slaughter”.
But is killing whales for food really so different than slaughtering cows in an abattoir?
Despite popular belief, the Faroese do not set out to hunt whales; instead they wait until a pod is passing one of the designated whaling bays. Then, an alert will go out to other islanders, who will herd the whales into one of the bays - which can only qualify as a whaling bay if it has a sloped beach. It’s a centuries-old tradition, and one which has come under repeated fire from animal campaign groups - Sea Shepherd, in particular.
“The Grindadrap is indefensible by any modern humane standards,” says Rob Read, chief operations officer of the charity’s UK arm.
“I don’t know why the grind is being judged so harshly by people,” Faroese journalist Høgni Mohr tells The Huffington Post UK. “Maybe for people who live in the big cities, it is not very common for them to go out to hunt their own food.
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“They’re more used to going to the grocery store to buy their food.”