July 28, 2017: Behind NAMMCO – Jústines Olsen, Faroe Isl.

The people behind NAMMCO:

Another face behind NAMMCO, who was also involved from the inception of the Commission in 1992 until retirement in 2014. A person very much involved – and engaged – with one of the important tasks of NAMMCO, the improvements of killing methods for both reducing animals’ suffering and improving hunters’ safety — Jústines Olsen from the Faroe Islands.

In 1986, I was asked by the Faroese Ministry of Fisheries to lead the work to make any possible improvements in the pilot whale hunt, especially to improve the killing methods and to participate in the work to update the legislation of the hunt. At that time, there were only 3 veterinarians working on the Faroe Islands, and as I had spent the most time on the islands, I felt obliged to take on this task. When NAMMCO was established I was asked to continue my work within the frame of this commission.

When I began my work on this subject I noticed an increasing and positive interest amongst Faroese whalers in making suggestions for improvements of the hunting equipment. Actually, the two most important items, used today in pilot whaling, namely the blow hole hook and the spinal lance were invented by two whalers.

When the activity within NAMMCO started, I soon became aware of the very professional staff and good atmosphere when contacting the secretariat and was impressed by their professional handling during the meetings.

My knowledge regarding the achievements within NAMMCO is primarily from the Committee on Hunting Methods and the Committee on Inspection and Observation. I was member of Committee on Hunting Methods since 1992 and until I retired in 2014 and I chaired the Committee in 1998 -2005. I was also a member of the Committee on Inspection and Observation, and its vice chair for some years.

Regarding the Committee on Inspection and Observation, I would like to highlight the quick and effective work accomplished to implement an international Observation Scheme for hunting activities in NAMMCO Countries.

Regarding the Committee on Hunting Methods, I would like to highlight the numerous workshops and working group meetings with hunters and invited experts from NAMMCO countries, as well as experts and hunters from other countries, resulting in fruitful discussions and recommendations. I especially want to highlight the intense work carried out in developing hunting manuals for baleen whales, small whales in Greenland and pilot whales in the Faroe Islands.

This Instruction Manual on Pilot Whaling has been and is a very important instrument when holding training courses for the Faroese whalers. It has indeed become mandatory to hold a license to be an active pilot whaler in the Faroe Islands. This get this license one must attend a training course and the Instruction Manual is an essential tool in the teaching. During the last two years more than 5000 persons have participated in these courses and received a license.

My wishes for NAMMCO are that the very serious work will continue in the same engaged and open spirit in the future.

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