Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



Whalers from the Caribbean island of St. Vincent and the North Atlantic archipelago of the Faroe Islands hunt pilot whales and a variety of other small cetaceans for food. Vincentian whalers use harpoons, thrown by hand or fired from a modified shotgun mounted on the boat. Faroese whalers, using several dozen boats, work cooperatively to drive an entire pod of whales ashore, where shore-based whalers are waiting to complete the kill with traditional whaling knives. Vincentian whaling traces its origins to the late nineteenth century. Records of Faroese whaling date to the late sixteenth century but the practice is thought to be much older, originating perhaps as early as the tenth century. The annual average take of all cetaceans is 305 in St. Vincent and 1,358 in the Faroe Islands. Whaling is both culturally and practically significant in both locations, providing not only a connection to history, but a source of food as well. However, the continuation of both operations may be threatened by the presence of methyl-mercury and other environmental pollutants in the tissues of the whales, which have been shown to have negative effects on human health. Additionally, both societies have had to negotiate the efforts of anti-whaling organizations, who employ methods such as protest, boycotts, and interventionary attempts to disrupt whaling activities. While the majority of whaling operations throughout the world have ceased completely, owing to a severe decline in whale populations, the Vincentians and the Faroese have in place certain traditional conservation strategies to avoid overexploitation of local stocks. Both societies place geographical limits upon the spaces in which whaling is allowed. The Faroese have codified certain traditional conservation practices into their legal codes including the power of whaling authorities to forbid whale drives to occur if conditions are not favorable or if the food that would result is not needed. Additionally, whaling in the Faroe Islands is conducted communally and the commercialization of whaling is forbidden. Vincentian whalers have cautiously engaged available technological advances, adopting certain technologies to aid their efforts but declining to adopt technologies that might lead to overexploitation of the resource.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Mathewson, Kent