Hunting and Protecting of Marine Mammals – a Clash of Cultures?
A conference at Faroe Islands June 4-5

Why has hunting and protection of marine mammals become an ethical dilemma? Some people argue that hunting whales inevitably leads to endangered stocks. Others argue that the hunting of whales is itself ethically unacceptable, because whales are high-ranking animals and the methods used to kill whales are old fashioned and inhumane. The hunting of large mammals is however not the only issue that generates debate. Scientific research has revealed that pollutants are threatening marine life. This pollution can also be a threat to marine mammals. Pollution of the sea and global warming derives from human actions in modern societies that strive for constant growth in production.

For the Nordic countries in the North Atlantic region, whale and seal meat together with blubber have been an important part of their nutrition for centuries. Over the last decades, the people have adapted their killing methods to modern standards of animal welfare. In general people and environment organizations, who are against the hunting of marine mammals, come from large modern urban centers far from the small coastal communities practicing this hunting of marine mammals.

Is this a clash of cultures between traditional and modern society today? Is it possible to achieve a better mutual understanding of these challenges? If this is the case, what improvements are possible and what can be done by NGO’s, hunters and politicians?


Information about the speakers

Conference report – information and download

Presentations and abstracts:

Realities of coastal cultures and rhetoric of conservation: Marine mammal controversies and the need for constructive dialogue
Niels Einarsson, Stefansson Arctic Institute, Iceland


The international dialogue and Nordic practices of hunting
Lars Walløe, University of Oslo, Norway

The threat of pollution to humans – and whales?
Pál Weihe, Department of Occupational Medicine and Public Health, The Faroese Hospital System, Faroe Islands

Global warming, environmental changes and marine mammals
Jóhann Sigurjónsson, Marine Research Institute, Iceland

Research on whales
Dorete Bloch, Náttúrugripasavnið, Faroe Islands

Modern urban thinking versus traditional hunting culture
Rasmus Ole Rasmussen, Nordic Center for Spatial Development, Sweden

Animal protection
Siri Martinsen, NOAH – for animal rights, Norway


The implications for Greenland of the EU policy on whaling and sealing
Amalie Jessen, Department of Fisheries, Hunting and Agriculture, Greenland

Perspectives of The Nordic Council of Ministers
Geir Oddsson, The Nordic Council of Ministers, Iceland

Small cultures vs. the international community
Gísli Pálsson, University of Iceland, Iceland

Challenges for international cooperation on the conservation and management of marine mammals
Kate Sanderson, Foreign Service, Prime Minister’s Office, Faroe Islands