Rows of slaughtered pilot whales line the docksRows of slaughtered pilot whales line the docks
Photo: Sea Shepherd / Peter Hammarstedt
At a press conference held on Tuesday morning in Torshavn, Sea Shepherd Global officially launched Sea Shepherd’s largest Faroe Islands campaign to date, Operation GrindStop 2014, led by Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and Sea Shepherd France.

Present to launch this multi-national, land- and sea-based campaign in defense of pilot whales and other dolphins were Captain Peter Hammarstedt, Director of Ship Operations, Sea Shepherd Global; Lamya Essemlali, President, Sea Shepherd France and Campaign Leader, GrindStop 2014; and Scott West, Campaign Director, Sea Shepherd USA and Onshore Leader, GrindStop 2014.

Sea Shepherd’s Ambassador ship, Columbus, was on site at Ice Pier at Torshavn Harbor, as were several units in its fleet of branded small boats and cars that will be utilized in the wide-ranging campaign. The first of the hundreds of on- and offshore volunteers from all over the globe converging upon the Danish Faroe Islands over the course of the campaign were also on hand. These volunteer crewmembers will protect pilot whales and other small cetaceans from the brutal ‘grindadrap,’ or ‘grind’ for short, a ritual massacre in which entire pods at a time are driven to shore and slaughtered.

“In 2010, I witnessed the aftermath of a grind in Klaksvik. A total of 236 sentient creatures were slaughtered in a single bloodbath that lasted for more than two hours. One pilot whale had been cut 6-7 times before her spine was finally severed; each blow and cut told a story of incredible suffering. It is our intent to make such cruelty history by standing our ground between the pilot whales and their killers,” said Captain Peter Hammarstedt, who opened the press conference.

Speaking next, Scott West added, “There are more than 500 volunteers from 27 countries already signed up to join us on the ground. People from all over the world condemn the slaughter of pilot whales in the Faroe Islands and we are willing to risk our lives to protect the whales. The onshore team is monitoring all of the killing beaches and we are prepared to stop a grind should one occur.”

Should a hunt commence during the course of the campaign, Sea Shepherd will take direct action to intervene and stop the grind from taking place using land, sea and air tactics. Any Sea Shepherd interventions in defense of the dolphins will be live streamed to the world. Taiji is a small town in Japan where dolphins are slaughtered and remaining ones enslaved and where Sea Shepherd campaigns each season to bring attention to the senseless capture and killing of dolphins. The actions in that small town have shamed and tarnished the entire nation of Japan. If the killing of dolphins continues in the Faroe Islands, the Faroes will soon be known as “The Taiji of Europe” and will deserve the same worldwide condemnation. 

Operation GrindStop 2014 Sea Shepherd will deploy vessels and land-based teams to cover all of the killing bays throughout the Faroes from June 17 until October 1. These are historically the bloodiest months of the hunt season, so our crew will be present during this timeframe in an effort to save the most lives. Sea Shepherd’s primary goal is to ensure that no cetaceans are killed while we patrol the islands.

“Sea Shepherd has led the opposition to the brutal and needless killing of cetaceans in the Faroe Islands for decades. This year, we return to the Faroes in full force and stronger than ever before,” added Lamya Essemlali. “Our offshore team will be on patrol and be constantly prepared to deter pilot whales from shore and out of danger. We are backed up by several teams of onshore volunteers ready to intervene to save lives if needed.”

Sea Shepherd has unveiled a new logo for Operation GrindStop 2014 due to the response of our supporters in the Faroe Islands. The new campaign logo will show that we are not anti-Faroese, but opposed to the brutal slaughter of cetaceans. "Due to the positive response and support that we have received from some of the people of the Faroes, we have decided to unveil a new logo showing that we are not anti-Faroese, but are opposed to the ongoing mass slaughter of the pilot whales in the Faroes. Sea Shepherd will be prepared to intervene to prevent any lives from being taken,” said Sea Shepherd founder, Captain Paul Watson.

For hundreds of years, the people of the Danish Faroe Islands have been herding migrating pilot whales and other small cetaceans into shallow water and slaughtering them. Entire family units are destroyed. The Faroese claim that without the meat from these cetaceans, the people would starve. Whether or not people would have starved in the past without eating pilot whale is irrelevant. There is certainly no one in the Danish Faroe Islands who would go hungry today, much less starve, if no more cetaceans were killed.

Today, the ‘grindadrap’ (whale slaughter) or ‘grind’ is a barbaric and cruel relic of history that has no place in modern civilization. The wholesale slaughter of entire families and the unimaginable horror inflicted upon these sentient, intelligent beings is unconscionable. The continued pillage of the oceans is causing disastrous consequences. Even the meat of these creatures is dangerous to consume. The European Union does not allow such activity, but the Danish Faroe Islands manage to side-step EU restrictions with their overfishing and harm to marine mammals. Sea Shepherd has taken action against the grind in years past and will do so again for GrindStop 2014.

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