Leading Faroese medical expert warns against eating whale meat

Chief Physician at the Department of Occupational Medicine and Public Health in the Faroes, Dr. Pal Weihe has contradicted government advice and reiterated a warning to the country’s population not to eat whale meat.

High levels of pollutants like mercury, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and PFCs (perfluorinated compounds) from the world’s oceans end up in sea mammals like whales and dolphins and are eaten in the Faroe Islands, Greenland, parts of Canada and Siberia. 

Pilot whale hunts in the Faroes
Pilot whale hunts in the Faroes

Dr. Weihe has been studying the effects of eating pilot whale meat in over 2,300 Faroese children and their mothers since 1984, and concludes that the contaminants in the whale meat and blubber increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, hypertension, arteriosclerosis, and even cognitive deficiencies in children with prenatal exposure to methylmercury.

In 2011 the Faroese government supported the Faroese Food and Veterinary Authority when it stated that adults should eat one meal of pilot whale meat and blubber per month. However, in a move that seems to trump his own government’s advice,  Dr. Weihe said; "The medical profession in the Faroes is recommending not to eat [pilot whale meat] at all."

Several thousand Pilot whales have been killed in recent years in the Faroes. The slaughter is brutal. Once driven to the shore, blunt-ended metal hooks inserted into their blowholes are used to drag the whales up the beach or in the shallows, where they are killed with a knife. Other species, including bottlenose dolphinsAtlantic white-sided dolphins and northern bottlenose whales are still hunted for their meat in the Faroe Islands.

Dr. Weihe went on to say, "[the] silent pollution of the oceans will one day end up on the dinner table in some communities, and our children are paying the price."

More on whale and dolphin hunts in the Faroe Islands