Sea Shepherd crews were arrested for interfering with the slaughter of pilot whales on the Faroe Islands known as the “grindadráp.” Yesterday’s slaughter at Sandavágur is the fifth of the year in the Faroe Islands and a total of 490 pilot whales have been killed in the archipelago since June.
The practice of killing of pilot whales is protected by Denmark, which allows the practice of “grindadráp.” The images of the July 23 slaughter and arrests Sea Shepherd crews for trying to stop the killing got worldwide attention. About 12 Sea Shepherd volunteers have been arrested in the Faroe Islands.
Sea Shepherd has been leading opposition to the grindadráp since the 1980s. Operation Sleppid Grindini is the organization’s sixth pilot whale defense campaign in the Faroe Islands.
On August 12, a Sea Shepherd boat arrived on the scene as the pod of whales was being driven to the killing beach on the island of Vágar. The boat disrupted the hunt, maneuvering between the flotilla of boats that had surrounded the whale pod. The Sea Shepherd boat managed to re-direct the pod, causing great confusion to the hunt.
Meanwhile, on the beach, five more Sea Shepherd volunteers ran into the water in order to position themselves between the whales and the awaiting hunters. All five were tackled by police and dragged back to the sand where they were handcuffed.
Initial reports said the pod as large as 200, but about 61 pilot whales were dragged onto the beach and eventually slaughtered. The frenzied killing of the whale pod took two hours. The Faroe Islands tourist industry is linked to the latest slaughter as it sells Atlantic Airways helicopter services to transport people that want to participate in the killings from the islands in the archipelago.
The location was reported by local authorities who gave the green light for the hunt to proceed.
Last week, two major German cruise-liner companies, AIDA and Hapag-Lloyd, announced that they would be cancelling upcoming trips to the Faroe Islands because of the impact of the grindadráp, and the law that protects the slaughter, on its customers. Already, this backlash from the tourism industry is estimated to have caused a loss of 6,000 tourists to the archipelago.
The August 12 slaughter at Sandavágur is the fifth of the year in the Faroe Islands. A total of 490 pilot whales have been killed in the archipelago since June.
On July 23, more than 250 pilot whales were slaughtered on the killing beaches of Bøur and Tórshavn in two separate grindadráps. Five Sea Shepherd volunteers were arrested that day for standing up in the defense of the whales. All five, four of whom are citizens of the European Union, have since been charged with breaching the Pilot Whaling Act and with public disturbance.
Whaling has been practiced in the Faroe Islands since about the time of the first Norse settlements on the islands in around the 10th century. Many Faroese consider the hunt an important part of their food culture and history. Animal rights groups criticize the hunt as being cruel and unnecessary.