EIA at 40 – whaling in the Faroe Islands, where mass slaughter stains the seas red with blood

In the countdown to EIA’s 40th anniversary later this year, we are featuring films and stories from our archive, highlighting our work exposing environmental crime and abuse around the world.

Today, we are sharing a flashback to one of our very first investigations.

In 1985, the Faroe Islands, an autonomous territory of Denmark, was conducting what was then the world’s biggest hunt of whales, killing hundreds of long-finned pilot whales killed each year.

Unlike Japan’s industrialised commercial whaling, these hunts (grindadráp in Faroese) are organised at a community level, with pods of whales driven to shore and killed in shallow waters with spinal lances.

Although the hunts are legal and regarded as a viable source of food for islanders, studies have  shown that the harvested whale meat and blubber is contaminated with mercury at levels not recommended for human consumption.

Interviewed in 2019, EIA co-founder Jennifer Lonsdale discusses witnessing the hunt at first hand and the investigation which first exposed its grim reality to the world.

Warning – this film contains footage of whaling which may distress some viewers.