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On the Faroe Islands mainly Pilot Whales are killed by drive hunts for their meat. Though officially this is the only species hunted, other species are also killed on rare occasion such as the Northern bottlenose whale and Atlantic White-sided Dolphin. The hunt is known by the locals as the Grindadráp. There are no fixed hunting seasons, as soon as a pod close enough to land is spotted fishermen set out to begin the hunt. The animals are driven onto the beach with boats, blocking off the way to the ocean. When on the beach, most of them get stuck. Those that have remained too far in the water are dragged onto the beach by driving a steel hook into the blubber of the animal, though these days in response to allegations of animal cruelty they’re more often dragged by putting a hook in their blowhole. When on land, they are killed by cutting down to the major arteries and spinal cord at the neck. The time it takes for a dolphin to die varies from a few seconds to a few minutes, depending on the cut. When the fishermen fail to beach the animals all together, they are let free again.
The pilot whale stock in the eastern and central North Atlantic is estimated to number 778,000. About a thousand pilot whales are killed this way each year on the Faroe Islands together with usually a few dozen up to a few hundred animals belonging to other small cetaceans species, but numbers vary greatly per year. The amount of Pilot Whales killed each year is not believed to be a threat to the sustainability of the population, but the brutality of the hunt has resulted in international criticism especially from animal welfare organisations.
As in Japan, here too the meat is contaminated with mercury and cadmium, causing a health risk for those frequently eating it. Again, especially children and pregnant women are at risk. In November 2008, the New Scientist reported in an article that research done on the Faroe Islands resulted in two chief medical officers recommending against the consumption of Pilot Whale meat, considering it to be too toxic. In 2008 the local authorities recommended to no longer eat Pilot Whale meat due to the contamination, and this has resulted in reduced consumption, according to a senior Faroese health official.
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