Photo Credit: Erik Christensen
Sea Shepherd Global, an oceanic wildlife conservation group, has launched a campaign to stop the brutal killings of whales and dolphins by asking consumers to boycott seafood products from the Faroe Islands, specifically salmon sold by Costco Wholesale Corporation.
Hundreds of long-finned pilot whales and Atlantic white-sided dolphins are killed each year, typically between July and August, in the shallows of the Faroe Islands archipelago located in the northern Atlantic between Iceland and Norway.
This gruesome practice, called grindadráp or grind, has been going on for centuries. The small island nation historically claimed that eating whale and dolphin meat was necessary for their survival. However, in modern times, the country no longer needs to consume these cetaceans to survive.
The Faroe Islands are “a self-governing nation under the external sovereignty of the Kingdom of Denmark.” Although whaling is illegal in the European Union (EU) and Denmark, the Faroese claim that the same laws don’t bind them (although they do receive EU benefits*).
Sea Shepherd has attempted to stop the culling practice for years, but the Faroe government, “in the interests of maintaining law and order,” banned Sea Shepherd’s vessels from “disrupting” the whale killing tradition.
Prohibited from acting at the scene of the crime, the marine conservationists and a group of celebrities, including actors Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver), Eric Balfour (Haven), Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner), Ross McCall (24: Live Another Day), Cliff Simon (Stargate SG-1), Clive Standen (Vikings); actresses Shannen Doherty (Charmed and Beverly Hills, 90210), Perry Reeves (Entourage) and Red Hot Chili Peppers front man Anthony Kiedis; are targeting the country’s economy by sending a joint letter to one of its wholesale buyers, Costco.
Fish exports drive 95 percent of the Faroe’s GDP and “Costco can apply economic pressure to end the atrocity [of cetacean killings],” by stopping “all purchase and sale of salmon” from the islands, reads the letter.
In an email to Planet Experts, Costco’s Seafood and Service Deli representative, Bill Mardon, responded to the boycott with the following statement:
“Costco Wholesale buys a tiny portion of its farmed salmon from the Faroe Islands. Because of our progress in sourcing from other countries (including Norway), we previously determined that our members would see better value if we discontinued the Faroe sourcing. Pre-existing commitments to the Faroe supplier, which we are advised has not participated in the whale fishery, are being honored but not renewed. We express no view on activities of the citizens of Faroe that are unrelated to our product sourcing.”
Although the Faroe Islands will lose Costco’s business, additional political and economic pressure will likely be required to stop further slaughters of whales and dolphins.
*The Faroe Islands receives subsidies, roughly equal to four percent of GDP, from Denmark (a member of the EU), which also provides the island nation with military security.