Magazine article The Spectator

Save the Whale-Hunt!

Magazine article The Spectator

Save the Whale-Hunt!

Article excerpt

Toftir, Faroe Islands

Almost twenty years ago I founded a heavy metal band called Týr. Our songs, with titles such as 'Blood of Heroes' and 'Lady of the Slain', might not appeal to all Spectator readers -- but we've released seven albums and toured several times across Europe and America. Our album covers depict bloodstained swords and skulls; nobody finds them too upsetting. But when I posted a picture of myself cutting up a whale on Facebook, all hell broke loose.

I live in the Faroe Islands, where whaling has been part of our way of life for centuries. Last month, I was working on a long-finned pilot whale the day after it had been killed. Since more than four-fifths of the world's population eats meat, I thought it would be fine to share such a picture -- it's no secret, surely, how meat is produced? But uproar followed. A campaign was launched to cancel my band's gigs and stop venues booking us.

We seldom see pictures from inside slaughterhouses. As a result, people have strange ideas about meat -- they seem to believe that animals are willingly and painlessly slaughtered behind closed doors. Ethically, I don't see the difference between slaughtering wild whales and farmed cows. All animals suffer: if you can slaughter cows for meat, why not slaughter wildlife?

Heri Joensen defends whaling on this week's Spectator podcast:

Whaling is illegal in the European Union, but the Faroe Islands are not (mercifully) in the EU. The Faroese whale hunt is non-commercial and organised at a community level. Nobody goes out searching for whales, but when a pod of them comes close to land, a hunt -- or grindadráp -- can be undertaken. It depends on how far away the whales are, if the ocean currents are favourable, and whether we are running low on whale meat.

Whales are killed with a special lance that cuts off the spine and the blood supply to the brain in one stab. Naturally, there is a lot of blood running into the ocean. It may look gory, but it's no worse than what you would see in any slaughterhouse. Like any modern country, the Faroe Islands have strict welfare regulations: vets say this is the most humane method to kill a whale.

When the hunt is over, all participants get a share of the meat, and if there's enough left over, locals receive a share too. …

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