There’s a Facebook post making the rounds that came from an email forward from about 2009, according to this Snopes article.
The problem with the post is that it contains several factual errors and seems to rely upon speculation and emotionally-charged accusations instead of verifiable sources.
The Faroe Islands are not in Denmark. The Faroe Islands, while in proximity to Denmark (out into the ocean and quite a distance north) and under the larger Kingdom of Denmark, have their own individual government and regulating body — similarly as Northern Ireland is not governed by England while still within the United Kingdom, per se.
It doesn’t happen every year. It’s not a single event where whales are mass-slaughtered, there are generally several attempts over the period of a year, bringing 50-100 with each attempt. Most attempts happen over the summer months, and the totals are cumulative yearly — not all in a single catch.
The practice isn’t cruel. At least, it’s not cruel as far as slaughter of animals is concerned in general. The practice is heavily regulated so that established techniques are followed in order for the practice to continue without undue concern from protection groups.
Nowadays, the hooks are actually blunt-tipped and the whales are apprehended by with the hook by the blowhole (like a nostril), not stabbed. Only the whales that are already dead are handled with the sharp hooks. Once brought ashore, A section of their spinal column is cut so that death comes on quickly, usually in less than a minute to minimize suffering as best as possible. The cut also severs an artery, so there is a lot of bleeding.
In my estimation, a well-practiced spinal cut and bleed-out wouldn’t be a terrible way to go — suddenly going numb and seemingly falling asleep from blood loss. It might be suddenly frightening, but if it came unexpectedly like a car accident, I wouldn’t have worried my whole life about it.
In comparison to other, more contemporary forms of livestock, these whales spend their whole lives in the natural habitat of their own selection rather than cramped, confined, man-made dwellings and do not experience stressful transportation or rough handling by impersonal machinery while alive. The catch lasts perhaps a few minutes and is unexpected, having lived and bred among their own in the wild. They’re not caught in painful traps or mishandled in ways that haven’t already been heavily regulated in response to advocacy groups.
There’s no risk of endangerment. The operation is communal (not commercial) so Islanders are permitted to participate if they wish, and the catch brings in around a thousand per year — whereas estimates of the overall population suggest around 200,000 exist of the short-finned variety, and about 1,000,000 of the long-finned sort.