I read recently, “Faroese whale meat holds a terrifying lesson for us all” there was no author but it did mention “The island and the Whales” to be shown on BBC Scotland. I did in fact watch the programme yesterday and it soon became clear that the filmmakers were not only telling the story about the Faroese and whales.
The Faroe Islanders are a very proud and independent people, living on a few barn rocks sticking up out of the North Atlantic, so community spirit is paramount if they are to survive. This comes over well in the film. The Faroese, are in fact a dependency of Denmark, but the government in Denmark is very hands-off.
95% of the Faroe Islanders income comes from the sea, and that included whale. The filmmakers were very good at telling the story of the islanders without taking sides, (a lesson that our media here in the UK could learn), they were totally non-judgmental in their delivery.
My family survived during the depression (between the wars) because my father fished for wale in the southern oceans. The only reason that commercial fishing for wale ended was not because of pressure from anti-whaling groups or governments, it was simply because it became uneconomical.
In the film we saw activist coming to the Faroe’s in well-appointed and very expensive ship jet-skies and top of the range clothing, they had come to disrupt any killing of a whale. My only thought was why it is OK to trawl the sea for Cod, almost to extinction, for the fish and chip shops of England but not a whale, that generations of Faroe islanders have depended upon as a source of food. Why is it OK to slaughter the cow, the sheep, the lamb, the pig, the chicken but taboo when it comes to the whale, is one not as bad as the other? (and don’t get me started on weapons that slaughter men, women and children, and so long as the arms trade is viable it will continue to thrive).
So should the Faroe islanders stop killing whale and start factory animal production instead? When I think of this I think of dad and what he told me about his days in the whaling industry.
“Of all the bloody savagery, nothing can compare, with the big bite the taxman takes when he gets hold of your share”. Fine so long as the buck stops here.
So what did I take from the programme?
The Faroe islanders are a very close-knit community.
They have a superb choir, the singing down at the dock was heavenly.
They have a hard life, and not a lot of need for sun blocker.
And the big question for us all was summed up by one of the islanders who remembered better times, said that when man pollutes our seas we all suffer.
Birds with plastic in the stomachs, whales so toxic that eating their meat over a prolonged period will cause brain damage. Beef cattle shot full of steroids, chicken washed in Chlorine, animals kept in batteries, food shot full of chemicals and bombarded with radiation to extend its shelf life. Now we have coronavirus, a virus that has a cross over from animals to humans, something that a few years ago would have seemed imposable.
The elderly man in the film looked back to his boyhood and what he saw there, was to him at least, better times. He mourned the past and was fearful of the future, and at times I feel the same, the world is changing so fast it is hard to keep up.
My dad was a Darwinian, and one saying that has always stuck in my head
“Live and let live”
In this ever changing world, one constant still remains, and that man’s inhumanity to man.