As has been the case for centuries, whaling still occurs in the Faroe Islands today. The Faroese have eaten pilot whale meat and blubber since they first settled the islands over a millenia ago. Today, as in times past, the whale drive is a community activity open to all, while also well organised on a community level and regulated by national laws.

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.

The meat and blubber from the hunt is distributed equally among those who have participated. Those who are too ill or weak to take part are encouraged to sign up for their share, even though they have not taken part.

Hunting and killing methods have been improved to ensure as little harm to the whales as possible. All hunters must now obtain a hunting license in order to kill a whale.

Although pilot whale meat and blubber contains much protein, iron, carnitine and vitamins, there are concerns that the high levels of mercury and PCBs in the whales can have detrimental health effects. Ocean pollution by heavy industries and industrialized agriculture has resulted in the pollution of whales.

Here you can read more detailed information about whaling in the Faroe Islands.