More Dead Cetaceans, Less Legal Wrangling

Credit: Sea Shepherd 2017

By The Maritime Executive 2017-09-28 18:58:58

On September 25, Sea Shepherd’s legal representatives sent a formal response to the European Commission condemning what it says is its sloppy and grossly inadequate reply to their detailed and painstakingly-researched legal arguments for infringement proceedings against Denmark for its role in the killing of dolphins. 

Compiled over a two-year period, the evidence presented to the Commission in May 2017, after its request for comments, aimed to show that Denmark has broken E.U. laws by facilitating and participating in the slaughter of dolphins in the Faroe Islands. 

“The Commission’s deficient reply dismissing the case indicates they failed to properly consider the dossier and its legal arguments,” said Sea Shepherd in a statement. “In accordance with the European Union’s long-standing administrative rules and guiding principles, Sea Shepherd demands the Commission give specific responses - with legal justifications -- for each of the main points addressed in the request for infringement proceedings.” 

Sea Shepherd has requested the Commission provide its detailed justifications within 15 working days.

Meanwhile, on the same day, 219 more Atlantic white-sided dolphins were killed at Skálabotnur on the Faroese island of Eysturoy, and nine more pilot whales were killed at Hvalba. That brings the 2017 statistics up to 1,605 small cetaceans slaughtered in 23 grindadrap hunts so far this year, says Sea Shepherd.

Although part of the Kingdom of Denmark, the Faroe Islands claim to be independent of European Union rules and regulation that prohibit killing of cetaceans. However, the Danish navy and Danish police have directly interfered with Sea Shepherd’s ability to stop the slaughter, both participating in and facilitating the grindadrap, says Sea Shepherd. The organization's Operation Bloody Fjords is a campaign to hold the Danish government accountable for actions that result directly in the deaths of hundreds of dolphins every year.

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. It is regulated by the Faroese authorities. The hunts are non-commercial and are organized on a community level. Anyone can participate, but special training is necessary to kill the whale with the spinal lance. The hunters first surround the pilot whales with a wide semicircle of boats. The boats then drive the pilot whales into a bay or to the bottom of a fjord. 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. Some Faroese say it is not cruel.