The Faroese tourism industry is slowly but surely paying the price for the 'Grind', its traditional slaughter of around 1,000 pilot whales, which all-year round draws worldwide criticism from animal rights groups and other concerned parties.
With the backing of the German Whale and Dolphin Protection Forum (WDSF) – and following in the footsteps of AIDA, a fellow German cruise company – Hapag Lloyd Cruises is threatening to cancel its routes to the Faroes should the Grind continue.
“As you might know, we have cruises planned to both Mykines and Tórshavn this year and next year,” the Hapag chief executive Karl J Pojer wrote in a letter to the Faroese prime minister, Kaj Leo Johannesen, which he also shared with media.
German ships bring thousands of passengers and millions of kroner to the Faroes every year, according to the WDSF, but they are not afraid to end the visits if it can save the whales.
“We protect what fascinates us – that is why our company and our guests have a strong wish to stop the whaling on the Faroe Islands and to create a dialogue with you,” Pojer continues.
Another German cruise company, AIDA, sent a letter to Johannesen last year as well, but received no response and reacted by cancelling its routes to the islands.
WDSF president Jürgen Ortmüller has launched a global campaign against the Faroe Islands until they at least engage in dialogue with the opposition.
High mercury levels
The brutal images of slaughtered whales and blood spilling out into the ocean has led to international outrage, but the whales aren't the only victims.
As WDSF and many others point out, the whale meat – which is eaten by the whalers, served in local restaurants and sold in local supermarkets – has dangerous levels of mercury in it and is not fit for human consumption.