Illustration of a grindadráp off the coast of Vestmanna, Streymoy (17 June 1854)

The Faroe Islands government decided to provisionally limit its controversial dolphin hunt (known as the grind, or ‘Grindadrap’ in Faroese) to 500 animals per year over the next two years: the decision came after the worldwide criticism collected over last year’s cull, during which 1,492 Atlantic white-sided dolphins, including pregnant females and juveniles, were killed. The hunting of sea mammals (primarily whales) is a tradition that has been practised for hundreds of years and Faroe Islanders give the practice their broad support, but animal rights activists have long deemed the Grind cruel and unnecessary. Whaling in the Faroe Islands, or ‘grindadráp’ (from the Faroese terms ‘grindhvalur’, meaning pilot whale, and ‘dráp’, meaning killing), is a type of drive hunting that involves herding various species of whales and dolphins, but primarily pilot whales, into shallow bays to be beached, killed, and butchered. Each year, an average of around 700 long-finned pilot whales and several hundred Atlantic white-sided dolphins are caught over the course of the hunt season during the summer. According to the official tourist website: “Records of all pilot whale hunts have been kept since 1584 and the practice is deemed sustainable, as there are an estimated 778,000 whales in the eastern North Atlantic region. Approximately 100,000 swim close to the Faroe Islands, and the Faroese hunt on average 800 pilot whales annually.” According to the website: “whaling in the Faroe Islands has been regulated for centuries. The law explicitly states that the hunt is to be conducted in such a way as to cause as little suffering to the whales as possible. The pilot whale catch in the Faroe Islands is a community-based activity, as it has always been, and the meat and blubber is divided fairly according to local and traditional customs.”