According to the New Scientist - "the chief medical officers of the Faeroe Islands have now officially recommended that pilot whales no longer be considered fit for human consumption, because they are toxic - as revealed by research on the Faeroes themselves."
From the New Scientist:
In a statement to the islanders, chief medical officers Pál Weihe and Høgni Debes Joensen announced that pilot whale meat and blubber contains too much mercury, PCBs and DDT derivatives to be safe for human consumption.
"It is with great sadness that this recommendation is provided," they said. "The pilot whale has kept many Faeroese alive through the centuries."
But in "a bitter irony", they said, research on the impact of the pollutants on the Faeroese themselves has shown that mercury, especially, causes lasting damage.
The work has revealed damage to fetal neural development, high blood pressure, and impaired immunity in children, as well as increased rates of Parkinson's disease, circulatory problems and possibly infertility in adults. The Faeroes data renewed concerns about low-level mercury exposures elsewhere.
The medical officers note that it wasn't the Faeroese who created the pollution. But "these results have already led to tightened restrictions on pollution worldwide. We must therefore also ourselves acknowledge the consequences."
Will Sanity Prevail?
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has been actively fighting the slaughter of pilot whales in the Faeroe Islands since 1983. We have had four campaigns to the islands and during those campaigns we disrupted the killing and focused international media attention on the slaughter. In 1986, the BBC produced the documentary Black Harvest about our campaigns to these savage islands. We have had crew arrested and we have had crew beaten by the whalers. It has been a long, hard, frustrating and vicious fight.
But now it looks like the Faeroese will have to end their bloody tradition of cruelty and slaughter or else inflict further harm upon their own children and themselves.
Is a tradition, this so called "gift from God" as the islanders call the "Grind" or the massacre worth sacrificing the health and lives of their own children?
We hope not. Our concern is for the survival and the welfare of the pilot whales and now the Faeroese have a concern in common with us - the survival and welfare of their own children and themselves.
Or will they continue to kill the whales in spite of the health risks? One Faeroese whaler whose daughter was pregnant in 2000 when we were there told us that, "I'm not concerned, just because you're full of mercury doesn't make you sick."
Perhaps it was simply because his own brain had been damaged by years of eating toxic whale meat.
But perhaps, they will heed the advice of their doctors and perhaps the Ferocious Isles will cease their horrific slaughter of the defenseless whales and the bays and shores of the islands will cease to run red with whale blood and the air will cease to be filled with the pitiful screams of dying whales on the deaf ears of cruel men and women who have no pity, and no mercy for the agonizing death they bring to these gentle giants every year.
Or perhaps they will continue in their quest to be the only nation to be deserving of the Darwin Award for their sheer ecological stupidity, ruthlessness and senselessness.
Every child in the Faeroe Islands suffering the effects of mercury poisoning now are doing so because their parents and their government willfully and guiltily allowed their health to be compromised out of a blind allegiance to the stupidity of culture and tradition.
The doctors in making their statement said, "It is with great sadness that this recommendation is provided."
Speaking for the whales, we can only answer that it is with great joy that the news is received.
We are sorry for the children of the Faeroe Islands but we did what we could when we warned them over 20 years ago that the consequences they are now suffering were inevitable.
We told them so.