Sunday, December 19, 2010

Busted! Whale Meat IS Sold In The Faroes!

I found this (Sept.2010) story recently, and thought it worthy of further discussion.
Several times, I've highlighted the butchery of pilot whales in the Faroe Islands. I was assured by several Faroese that none of this meat is ever sold, so imagine my great disappointment to read that an open and a "grey" market in whale meat exists on the Faroes!
Animal protection activists Andreas Morlok (Project Whale Protection Action, ProWal) and Juergen Ortmueller (Whale and Dolphin Protection Forum, WDSF) found pilot whale meat can be ordered in restaurants, and bought on the street!
Morlok: “Contrary to the insistence of the Danish and Faroe govts., we did uncover...a lively trade in pilot whale meat. It can be ordered in restaurants like Marco Polo and in the four-star hotel Hafnia and can be openly purchased in the fish market of the capital Thorshavn. Anybody can buy and consume whale steaks there, and this at an exorbitant price of 40-50 Euros per meal.”
The pair discovered an additional “grey” market for whale products. After a hunt (or grind) every inhabitant has a right to whale meat at no cost, so there's a very strong temptation to on-sell the meat, to those who want more and are willing to pay. The two were offered whale meat in the restaurant of the Hotel Sjoemansheim in Klaksvik: the chef said he'd "acquired" fresh meat, because the freezers were full after the slaughter of over 800 whales this season. And a man hiring boats sold them half a kilo of marinated whale meat.
None of this is ever sold. Yea, right!
As I've blogged previously, in Torshavn the biggest supermarket SMS sells minke-whale meat imported from Norway as a delicacy at a price of 43 Euros per 2.5 kilos. Up until now Norway has maintained the whale meat is only for 'own consumption' and that they only export whale products to other whaling countries like Japan and Iceland.
With this now out in the open, I look forward to comments from any Faroese who can put hand-on-heart and truthfully deny these activites actually take place.

PS: 29 April 2013 - Whale meat discovered being sold unlabelled on a Faroese ferry!


Anonymous said...

Lieing bastard butchers!

Elin Brimheim Heinesen said...

Hi Phil,

Why use this rhetoric: Busted! with a slight sense of schadenfreude almost. As if you were waiting for some proof to finally be able to rightfully claim that all Faroese are a bunch of lying hypocrites after all.

But this is nonsense. I thought you're agenda was to create understanding. Not to fuel more prejudice and agitate people.

You've probably lost all confidence now in us Faroese who claimed that whale meat was not sold in the Faroes. I have a feeling that your confidence might have been on a very low level beforehand, since you're so willing to change course right away.

I have not been dishonest. I believed I was speaking the truth when I claimed that pilot whale meat was not sold in the Faroes.

However I've looked further into it myself now, and yes - I've found out that it is true: Whale meat has been sold in the Faroes lately - in very small amounts in two or three restaurants - obviously mostly to please foreign tourists curiosity, who'd like a taste of our traditional food.

I have also heard that some individual fishermen who might have trouble making ends meet, occasionally try to sell whale meat at the harbor to by-passers who might be tempted. But this is rarely seen. The market for this is probably limited to a few tourists and a few people in T├│rshavn who cannot get their hands on whale meat in other, more traditional ways. Remember that most people get their whale meat for free, so they don't need to buy it.

I have, in fact, just a few days ago also seen mink whale meat being sold in SMS, as you state. This is something which is completely new to me. I have never seen it before.

But actually, even if you seem shocked by this, this doesn't quite surprise me, because you have to think about that whale meat is widely regarded as good food in the Faroes, since people here are so used to eating it - and now when pilot whale meat unfortunately has become quite polluted, mink whale meat might be seen by some as a good alternative, since it's not as polluted as pilot whale meat is. Mink whales are not regarded as an endangered species.

What can I say. I won't defend what is going on, because I actually don't like it if whale meat is becoming commercialized - also in the Faroes. I think the Faroese should rather hold on to their old pilot whaling tradition where people shared the meat for free among themselves, as they've always done. Earning money from it was never a purpose in the past.

I can only state that selling whale meat is NOT the rule today either - this is the exception. And one should not judge all Faroese - or the Faroese whalers as a whole - because a few people fall for the temptation to earn a little money on their surplus of whale meat.

Elin Brimheim Heinesen said...

I will still claim that the majority of all Faroese like to keep things as they were. Why should they willingly abandon their tradition and adapt to more modern commercialized ways of dealing with the whales, if they get the meat for free now. So I'm not so worried.

But it would, of course, be really sad if the Faroese would let go of their old way of life completely and go all the way and implement a modern lifestyle, which implies 100% dependence on commercialism - an unstable, unsustainable system, which rewards greed because it’s based on the illusion of infinite exponential financial growth.

The catastrophic consequences of such a system are – as we have seen already – that resources become extremely unevenly distributed and are used up, while the ground, the seas and the air become polluted and poisoned with accelerating speed, and sentient animals are tailored into consumer products by the billions and treated no different than exactly that: products among other products with no respect for their lives.

This system is basically life-threatening and exposes us all too serious danger in the long run – not just humans but all living creatures on earth – including whales.

In that sense, it would make much more sense if the Faroese would rather stick to their old tradition, which does not pose nearly as great a threat to whales as our modern world does.

Shane W. said...

What sanctimoneous rubbish, Elin! Just admit it. You people have been screaming "Unfair victimisation!" for too long. Now its confirmed what has long been suspected: that pilot whaling IS a commerical venture there. And now Elin wants to spin the issue so that it's about traditional meat hunting vs nasty commercialised packaged goods. What???!!!
Lady, the issue is your BRUTALITY, your archaic savage senseless slaughter. You can't now try to persuade people that it's merely your way of saving the planet. And not only are you selling the pilot whale meat locally (despite so many FI saying that doesn't happen!), but your country IMPORTS whale meat for human consumption too.
Your desperate clinging to a vicious outdated (and health-damaging) tradition not only kills pilot whales, but assists in the slaughter of endangered big whales too.
Do you realise in how much CONTEMPT the majority of the Western world holds you, simply because of this activity? If it was to stop, the resulting positive opinion would lead to more tourism money coming in.
But for now, you are putting yourselves in the "pariah" box, along with other whaling nations that keep denying their brutality, in the face of overwhelming evidence. Wake up! And stop your barbaric slaughter!

writer of the purple sage... said...

Dear Elin:
No, there was no schadenfreude - more a sad vindication really.
My agenda has always been to cut through the internet errors (and sometimes complete fabrications) to reveal the reality. Then people can make up their own minds, and act accordingly.
Where there is smoke, there's fire. I smelt smoke. I researched. I found the fire.
I do totally accept that readers such as yourself honestly believed no commercial aspect existed, and that there were no whale imports. And I've always been grateful for your intelligent insights on the subject.
But I've also received emails from Faroese, vehemently in denial. Even when presented with documentation, they've claimed it was all fabricated.
I personally doubt TOURISTS would eat whale in a FI restaurant. I think the trade would appeal more to locals whose own personal supply of whale has been all eaten. But that's mere speculation...
As can be seen on numerous global websites, there are those who'd wish harm upon FI for the grind. True passionate activists want only the grind itself to cease permanently - not for the FI to be sent to Satan's dinner table! But until that stops, your country WILL unfortunately be regarded globally in less than positive terms, to put it mildly.
People do not view the grind as a sustainable resource, but rather an ages-old horrendous and cruel "bloodsport". That - I believe - is the core of the issue: not your right to live off the land (or the sea) but the vicious prolonged primitive inhumane method of killing...

BigMac said...

part 1

In primary school I had a teacher with a somewhat moody nature. Remember how he worked him self up. The initial sign of an outburst was a lock of forhair falling down over his eyes His mind was set, and for no apparent reason somebody had to pay, and out of nowhere a punishment was effectuated.

Your exalted outburst of a headline gives me flashback´s . The essence is not important, your mind is set, -punishment is in the air.

You perfectly well know that the faroese whaling is not commercial. Still you with grim determination talk against better knowledge. No matter how much you work yourself up, it still is not a commercial hunt. You can´t change fact´s just because you set your mind to it.

If you insist on being ignorant and defying all logic by singlehanded redefining the dictionary-term “commercial hunt” let me for God´s sake tell you what commercial hunt is.

Commercial hunt is run by company’s, with some kind of government permission, to run a business. The company actively acquires it´s product as efficient and low-cost as possible and sell on with as much profit as possible. The goal is profit and active marketing is a mean to propagate the product to an as widespread market as possible.

NONE of these characteristics which by essence define a commercial business is applicable to the Faroese whaling.
No company is involved. It is a community matter, every person contributes by ability but receives equal shares. All shares are strictly personal.
The “hunt” is not even a hunt in the common use of the term, cause there is no daily regular active hunt going on but only ad hoc when a flock by chance approach the shores within a few miles.

It is nevertheless of even bigger importance to understand WHY the differentiation between commercial and non-profit hunt, is made in the first place.

What is the relevance, why is profit vs. non-profit a factor of importance, why do faroe islands emphasize the message and why would you be engaged in that aspect?

Well the answer is obvious: In every commercial business, economic interests are the driving force and the end-purpose. The natural resources are exploited to the limits, the efficiency is optimized, the markets are primed to expand the trade.

In other word if the whaling was commercial, strong economic interests would be in constant conflict with the maintenance and sustainability of the pilot whale population.

This is the problems essence concerning hunt and commercialization.

Faroe Islanders who live in and by the nature did from day one administrate this nature-given resource with respect to what the stock can tolerate. This is why the system is the same today as thousand years ago. This is why no company are allowed to run whalehunt. This is why no meat is exported. This is why no marketing is done neither is it relevant. This is why local authorities in periods ban whale drives in districts where they estimate the supply being adequate. This is why the shares are personal, distributed free of charge. This is why the stock is being monitored and the catch recorded hundreds of years back

Now to the fantastic headline. Your great discovery, unveiling “sensitive” information gathered by two undercover agents (supposedly with dark glasses, long jackets, in cover behind a newspaper). One might respond in terror-stricken horror if only the cartoon like description didn´t have such an unintended comic humorous side to it.

Grey market?? Where every person get his free share? This is a joke Ok let me explain to you, - this is faroe islands ok?, a country where every person get his free share of grind. You don´t even have to use your imagination to understand that this is not a lucrative marked for whale meat.
to be continued..

writer of the purple sage... said...

Dear Big Mac:

I’m sorry your schoolboy experiences have left mental scars that still affect you today. I’m sure there are specialists who can help you get past your trauma. :-)

Actually “commercialism” means somebody sells something to someone else, and money or equivalent is exchanged for a product. The fact that people ARE selling whale meat openly in restaurants, and perhaps slyly down at the wharf, means that title is apt. Your government DOES sanction the grind, has approved bays for the massacres to happen in, does regulate distribution, equipment etc… The importation for human consumption shows the commercialism of whale meat in FI goes far beyond the grind. That big whale imports happen means FI is seen as a lucrative market for the suppliers. And of course your government will have had to approve the import certificates too…

Around the world, my ‘exalted outburst of a headline’ means “caught out”… “caught in the act”… “nabbed” etc. You and several other FI have put in great effort to convince me that there is NO commercial aspect to your activities. Now that evidence proves otherwise, I feel the “Busted!” headline is appropriate. If you felt it had an ‘unintended comic humorous side’, then I’m pleased to have brought some levity to your life. :-)

I don’t know if the investigators were in ‘dark glasses, long jackets, in cover behind a newspaper’. But the fact that the man investigating the Klaksvik debacle last July had his life threatened might have made these two more circumspect. If there’s REALLY nothing to hide or be ashamed of, why threaten someone who just wants to know exactly what’s going on?

When pressing a point, one can’t change one’s argument mid-stream. Faroese had constantly told me that no money changes hands, no meat is imported, no pain is inflicted, no health risks are involved. Well, all of these have been proven to exist, so those cases are closed.

My personal issues have always consistently been the brutality of the butchery and the fact that this activity actually does not need to happen and is not required to sustain life on FI. That it blithely continues shows the participants either don’t understand the worldwide disgust it generates, or don’t actually give a damn!

As always, thanks for your input.

BigMac said...

(the board doesn´t allow to long posts so I have to split them up. I´m a little late with part 2 and your comment came in between but that´s ok)

Part 2
Grey market?? Where every person get his free share? This is a joke Ok let me explain to you, - this is faroe islands ok?, a country where every person get his free share of grind. You don´t even have to use your imagination to understand that this is not a lucrative marked for whale meat.

It is not against the law to sell your personal share which is done occasionally. The buyer may be from a district low on “grind” for a longer period. This is reasonable redistribution of somebody’s share which will be consumed by person 2 instead of person 1.

Also the buyer can be a local hotel allowing curios tourists to try or the supermarket sms selling to returned faroislanders living abroad. Likewise these are somebody’s personal share.

Don´t make a fool out of your selves by openly displaying such ignorance,- “grey marked” in faroe islands of all places, where every person get their whalemeat free???, -I have never heard such a stupid far fetched thing. Must be the best detective work since the revealing of gangsters bootlegging sand in Sahara or ice in the North Pole!

This was never a secret and people who feel they are in a position to criticize are as minimum expected to know this is a triviality with no relevance to commercialization and no relevance to the disadvantages of commercial hunt I pointed out before, and which you bloody well know faroe islands are NOT running.

NB: Will be back with comments on the mink-whale meat sold in sms which is a completely different issue.

Sandi said...

Hey, Big Mac!
Youve just spent many lines arguing that there's no commercialism - no $$$ involved. Now in this last post you write that people ARE selling their share to restaurants.
Thats a business deal.
That's commercialism.
Maybe when you're as isolated from the Real World as you people, you don't understand the language of commerce.

Anonymous said...

The reason why they sell the meat, is because in some small villages, some people may find they have more whale meat than others that he/she can't eat it all. In order not to waste it, he/she can sell the meat to restaurants, supermarket and hotels. And the selling prices are CONTROLLED by the government.

Therefore, the selling of the whale meat is not for involving money, but just to find a way to dispose their excess meat instead of wasting it. One solid proof is that, if people want to sell the meat for money, then wouldn't it be the sellers who are controlling the selling price of the whale meat instead of the government??

On the other hand, you people use your definition of "commercial" to say Faroese whaling is "commercial whaling" because they "sell" the whale meat.

Then, according to your logic, isn't Inuit whaling "commercial" and not native whaling then?? For instance, in Greenland, you can lots of whale meat selling in supermarkets and fish markets. Or in Alaska, you can also find whale meat in supermarkets.

And what's more, if you want to say Faroese whaling is "commercial", why not compare the money involved in selling the whale meat with the other REAL commercial whalings like Iceland and Norway?? In doing that comparison, you will find Faroese whaling is JUST too small scale to be called "commercial whaling"

On the other hand, if you want to proof whether Faroese whaling is involving money. Why don't ask any single Faroese who buys whale meat instead of getting free from the hunt?? I think it will be almost none.