THE issue of ‘abhorrent’ dolphin killings in the Faroe Islands is to be raised with the Island Games Association once again as Guernsey prepares to host this year’s competition.
Lyndon Farnham, former Economic Development Minister with responsibility for sport, said it was ‘absolutely disgraceful’ that dolphins and other sea mammals such as pilot whales continued to be killed in the Faroe Islands as part of the traditional ‘grindadrap’ hunts.
He said that the Faroe Islands’ ability to participate in the Island Games – which is to be hosted this summer in Guernsey – should be reconsidered as a result.
Deputy Farnham raised the issue in 2021 shortly after a 1,428-strong pod of white-sided dolphins were driven into shallow waters at Skálabotnur beach and butchered.
He wrote to IGA chair Jörgen Pettersson, calling for the Faroe Islands to be excluded from future Island Games unless there was a ‘firm undertaking to stop the annual destruction of marine mammals’.
However, in his reply, Mr Pettersson said the IGA did not ‘become involved or interfere in politics’.
‘The International Island Games Association was formed to foster and encourage friendship through sporting activities between diverse Island communities and to provide opportunities for sportsmen and sportswomen to participate in international sport,’ Mr Petterson wrote.
‘We respectfully suggest that the States of Jersey could approach the Faroese government on this issue.’
Deputy Farnham described the response as ‘an immense disappointment’.
‘While one should try to respect a country’s customs and traditions,’ he said, ‘it is absolutely disgraceful that this abhorrent practice continues to this day. With the Island Games approaching, we should not allow the needless and brutal slaughter of dolphins and other sea mammals by a participating member to go unchallenged. I would urge the IGA to reconsider whether their participation should be allowed,’ he said.
Since the major outcry over the Skálabotnur beach dolphin slaughter in 2021, the Faroese government has implemented a provisional annual hunt quota of 500.
However, this has been heavily criticised by campaigners, with some arguing that it has formalised the annual killings.
Deputy Farnham confirmed that he would be writing another letter to the IGA and all participating members, adding that the fact Guernsey was hosting this year’s Island Games presented an opportunity to raise the issue again.
‘We should make it clear that this terrible “tradition” is not something we condone in the Channel Islands, where dolphins are rightly treated as beautiful and intelligent creatures. While sport can sometimes transcend politics, it cannot be a safe haven for the perpetrators of such brutal practices.’