Skip to main content

Where’s the Meat?

By August 17, 2015No Comments

Commentary by Sea Shepherd Founder, Captain Paul Watson


Tethered dead whales, including young, at Sandavágur, waiting to be butchered. Photo: Sea Shepherd / Cris Cely

Many of the Faroese and even some Danes are spreading messages entitled “Sea Shepherd Lies.”

They claim that Sea Shepherd is lying about the slaughter of whales. They say it is humane; we say it is not. They say the whales die instantly; we have documented that they do not. They say children do not participate in the Grind; we have documentation that proves they do. They say Sea Shepherd is lying about the mercury toxicity in the meat; we refer to Faroese doctors as evidence that what we are saying is true. The Faroese whalers seem to think that anything that does not dovetail with their world view is a lie.

Let’s take a look at the Faroese claims that the whales are killed for meat, that they depend upon the meat and that none of the meat is wasted.

Aside from the fact that we have documented entire carcasses lying on the bottom of the ocean, we can use simple mathematics to also disprove this claim as bogus.

When the whales are killed they are divided into what the whalers refer to as “skinns.”

1 skinn = ca 50 KG meat and ca 25 KG blubber

With an average of 880 whales killed per year, that gives about 335.720 kg (approx.. 740 lbs) of meat and 167.860 kg (approx. 370 lbs) of blubber.

The Faroese government has advised to only eat the meat and blubber 1-2 times a month, and a study has shown that only about 17% of the islanders eat it more than once a month. 47% have said that they rarely or never eat pilot whale.


For the purposes of this statistic, we can set the average high at 40% of people that eat pilot whale twice a month.

The population of the Faroe Islands is 49,469 (as of 2013). 40% of this number is 19,787 people.

A meal of meat consists of roughly .250 kg (approx. .5 lbs) of meat and .05 kg (approx. .11 lbs) of blubber.

Two meals per month result in a total of 24 meals per year, with a total of 6 kg (approx. 13 lbs) of meat and 1.2 kg (approx. 2.6 lbs) of blubber consumed.

This means that there every year the Faroese consume 118,722 kg (262,000 lbs) of meat and 23,744.4 kg (approx. 52,000 lbs) of blubber.

The average catch per year is about 335.720 kg (approx. 740 lbs) of meat and 167.860 kg (approx.. 370 lbs) of blubber.

Each year, 216,998 kg (approx. 478,000 lbs) of meat and 144,115.6 kg (approx. 252,000 lbs) of blubber disappears. Where does it go?

It appears that twice as much meat disappears than is eaten.

There has been some speculation that it is fed to farm-raised salmon. I contacted the Faroese salmon farms and they denied this. There is a possibility it could be sold to fur farms in Russia. The Faroese have taken advantage of the European ban on trade with Russia to increase their salmon exports to Russia. This is interesting in and of itself because Denmark has banned trade with Russia and Norway has had a decline in salmon exports to Russia resulting in the increase in farm-raised salmon exports to Russia. Again we have no proof of exports of the meat. But what we do know is that it must go somewhere – the question is where? Should not the Danish authorities investigate this?

I have been sent reports that many Faroese store the meat in freezers and when new meat becomes available it replaces the old meat, which is thrown away. Last year Sea Shepherd took photos and footage of Faroese people dumping whale meat off cliffs into the sea.

Some of the whale meat is sold to tourists in restaurants in the Faroes despite the Faroese saying it is never sold. But even this does not come close to answering the question of where approximately 217 tons (478,000 lbs) of meat and 114 tons (252,000 lbs) of blubber ends up. It is a mystery that the Faroese and the Danish authorities should be obligated to explain.

The question is: Are Faroese deficient in the availability of meat?

There are approximately 70,000 sheep in the Faroes, about 20,000 more sheep than people. In fact the word “Faroe” means sheep. The islands of sheep. Every year the Faroese slaughter approximately 30,000 sheep, mainly seven-year-old animals and lambs.

The Faroese salmon farms produce about 70 tons of salmon per year. The Faroese have an efficient industrialized deep-sea fishing fleet. These two industries give the Faroes the highest per capita income of any country in Europe.

The Faroese complain that they have to import vegetables, pork, beef, chicken and fruits. The reality is that they would still be importing the same foods without killing whales. They also import computers, cars and all the luxuries of western civilization. They pay for these things with the large-scale exploitation of fish and the profits of their salmon farms. In addition they receive subsidies from the European Union without having to comply with European regulations.

The Faroe Islands are one of the wealthiest places on the planet. There is simply no economic or subsistence need to kill pilot whales and dolphins.

The provisions of the Faroese Parliamentary Act state that the Faroese are permitted to drive and kill the following cetaceans:

  1. Long-finned pilot whale, Globicephala melas
  2. Northern bottlenose whale, Hyperoodon ampullatus
  3. Atlantic white-sided dolphin, Lagenorhynchus acutus
  4. White-beaked dolphin, Lagenorhynchus albirostris
  5. Common bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops truncatus
  6. Harbour porpoise, Phocoena phocoena

Sea Shepherd has observed the slaughter of whales in the Faroes for many years. What we have seen are a group of people (not all Faroese) who are obsessed with the killing. We see it in their excitement to rush into the sea to slaughter the whales; we hear it in their cheers and laughs; we see it in the joy they exhibit when they plunge their blades into the flesh of these gentle creatures. We see it in their children mutilating the bodies of the whales, and playing with whale fetuses or poking out their eyes.

The whales do not die to provide meat. The kill figures alone demonstrate that this is not the case. The Faroese whalers kill because they believe it is a part of their tradition to kill whales, yet their ancestors did not have helicopters with which to spot the pods, motor boats with which to drive them, or hydraulic cranes and trucks with which to transport them. Nor did they have a Navy to protect the Grind. But their ancestors did have something that the Faroese do not have today and that was subsistence necessity.

Leave a Reply