Sea Shepherd Captain Returns to Faroe Islands
On July 29, Sea Shepherd Captain Jessie Treverton from the U.K. successfully passed through border security and re-entered the Danish Faroe Islands’ capital of Tórshavn for the first time since her arrest in 2014.
She is returning to demand her court trial and the return of the seized Sea Shepherd vessel MV Spitfire.
The action comes after the Faroese prosecutor failed to set a court date after almost two years since the arrest of Treverton on September 17, 2014, for successfully guiding a pod of white-sided dolphins away from the killing bays of the Faroe Islands as part of Sea Shepherd Global’s campaign Operation Grindstop.
After steering a large pod of dolphins to safety the Danish Navy chased, boarded and seized the British registered vessel MV Spitfire and arrested its three European crewmembers (Jessie Treverton of the U.K., Celine Le Diouron and Marion Selighini of France), subsequently charging them with “failure to report sightings of dolphins to the authorities” under the newly introduced ‘Grind Law’ and “harassing dolphins” in an unprecedented interpretation of Faroese animal welfare legislation.
“Apparently in the Faroe Islands it is perfectly legal to drive and kill a protected E.U. cetacean species, but it is illegal to push them back out to sea in order to keep them from harm’s way because that is considered harassment,” said Sea Shepherd Founder Captain Paul Watson in response to the arrest in 2014. “So these three Sea Shepherd women can proudly say that they successfully ‘harassed’ the dolphins for the purpose of saving their lives.”
Originally scheduled for September 2014, Treverton’s court case has been postponed numerous times. On the October 7, 2014, a Danish Court hearing in the Faroe Islands ruled the seizure of the MV Spitfire was illegal and the boat was ordered returned to Sea Shepherd U.K. However, the Faroese prosecutor immediately appealed the court's decision and Spitfire has been held ever since with no further trial date set.
Sea Shepherd’s Faroese legal team representing Treverton believes that the lengthy postponement is intentional because any such trial will have a landmark impact on the archipelago’s traditional drive hunt and slaughter of pilot whales and other dolphins.
Faroese lawyer Jógvan Páll Lassen, who has defended Sea Shepherd on several occasions in the Faroese courts, was quoted by a Faroese journalist as saying, “the question of the dolphins, which Sea Shepherd were driving away outside of Hoyviksholm, has never come to the courts. The case is drawn out, since several different people must first give their accounts. As I see it, the prosecution is busy finding proof that it is animal cruelty to drive a pod of dolphins away from a Faroese fjord. Then it’ll be interesting to learn what they think about [the Faroese] driving pilot whales ‘into’ a Faroese fjord.”
“I’m looking forward for my case to be heard in court, to highlight the ridiculous hypocrisy of the grind laws,” said Treverton on arrival in Torshavn on Friday. “If I am found guilty of ‘stressing’ dolphins, the dolphin hunters can also be charged with that same offence. If I am found innocent, any person will be free to direct dolphins away from the islands to safety. Either way, it is a win for the oceans.”
The latest Faroese ‘Grind’ on July 26 saw a pod of approximately 200 long finned pilot whales driven by 25 Faroese boats for two hours before 135 were eventually beached and killed on the rocky shoreline at Hvannasund in the second and largest slaughter of 2016.