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Faroe Islands Newspaper: "Young People are Afraid to Participate in Whaling"

Updated: Sep 4, 2023

"The Whale Hunting Association wants the authorities to enforce the whaling laws. They want to have peace to work while there is a whale hunt. 380,000 people, among them also Faroese, want to boycott the Faroe Islands due to the whale killings."

This is the translation of the article in the Faroe Islands newspaper, Sosialurin, that appeared on August 3rd, 2023 (paywall), with Stop the Grind's response at the end. .

"We must have peace to kill whales, and for that reason, the whaling laws must be reviewed." That's what Esmar Joensen, the chairman of the Whale Hunting Association, believes. In recent years, Sea Shepherd has been present every summer in an attempt to prevent us from killing whales. Paul Watson, the former leader of Sea Shepherd, was expelled from the organization because he was too aggressive in his approach. Now he has founded a new organization and has also been in the Faroe Islands with his new ship,

John Paul De Joria.

The representatives for Sea Shepherd have been fairly aggressive and have done their utmost to provoke whalers into taking action. This is precisely what they hope whalers will do, as then they will get good photos that people can react to – and they have succeeded several times. Paul Watson has directly stated that their goal is to intervene when there is whaling.

Better Protection Needed

Esmar Joensen believes that the whaling laws do not adequately protect those involved in whaling, and therefore he thinks they should be reviewed. He points out that recently people from environmental organizations have gone to great lengths to fly drones over the whaling operations, in addition to taking photos and filming between the legs of the whalers. He says this is particularly provocative and prevents those who are supposed to kill the whales from doing their work. What he has found is that young people believe this is so intrusive that they simply do not dare to participate in whaling.

"They refrain from participating in whaling because they are afraid that they will be vilified on social media," says the chairman of the Whale Hunting Association. Therefore, he believes that much more must be done to secure the entire area around a whale killing –

even the airspace. According to the law, the sheriff has the authority to declare an area around a whale killing as a whaling area where no one except those involved in the actual hunting and killing may be.

"Whale killing is slaughter under the open sky, but it's not right for those who want to prevent us in our legal activity to be so intrusive that young people refrain from participating in whaling," Esmar Joensen says.

The chairman of the Whale Hunting Association believes that more needs to be done in this regard so that no one who is not involved in the actual whaling operation and the killing itself is allowed into the whaling area – not even with drones.

At the same time, he believes that the police should be present when there is whaling to ensure that whalers can work in peace.

To Address the Issue in the Fall

It is Dennis Holm, who is the Minister responsible for this area, and he says he will address the issue now that the summer vacation is over. He will then arrange a meeting with the Whale Hunting Association to find out exactly how they think the whaling laws should be changed. He says that this is an area that should be periodically reviewed, especially since it arouses so much attention.

"Therefore, we should regularly evaluate the situation to know what conditions need to be adjusted," says Dennis Holm.

We Have Faith in the Police's Handling of Paul Watson

Many are concerned that Paul Watson was not arrested when he broke the law, but the

Grindamannafelagnum (Whale Hunting Association) says they have no reason to doubt the police.

"We trust the work of the police and the decisions they make," says Esmar Joensen, the chairman of the Grindamannafelagnum. Paul Watson's organization has again been present in the Faroe Islands this summer, trying to prevent whale hunting. Despite having been banned from entering Faroese waters, Paul Watson’s ship, the John Paul De Joria, violated the ban and entered the harbour multiple times.

The police say that their actions should be proportionate to the legal offense and its consequences. Since no harm was done, they chose to merely observe the situation and confirm the legal breach. The captain of the John Paul De Joria has been charged with a fine of 157,000 crowns for violating the ban, but he has appealed the case to a higher court.

Trust in the Police

The police’s decision to allow John Paul De Joria entry was controversial. While some feel the ship should have been seized, others think it was correct not to seek prosecution. Esmar Joensen says he trusts that the police will handle things in a manner that serves the case best. He believes the police have information the public does not, and a lot goes on behind the scenes that we're not aware of. He also points out that Paul Watson and those representing him want to provoke people to get images for their propaganda machine.

"Paul Watson would rather be a martyr, but that should not be allowed, and we

should not rush forward," says Esmar Joensen, the chairman of the Grindamannafelagnum.

Now 380,000 People Have Signed to Boycott the Faroe Islands

Just before the Faroese national holiday Ólavsøka, environmental groups launched a new campaign aimed at encouraging tourist ships to boycott the Faroe Islands. The campaign aims to not only discourage ships but also individuals from visiting the Faroe Islands as a tourist destination. This came after tourists on a foreign ship were shocked to witness a grindadráp (whale hunt) in the harbour.

As a result, the company that owned the ship issued an apology for the discomforting experience. In the wake of this, steps are now being taken to gather signatures to pressure foreigners to boycott the Faroe Islands. The goal is to pressurize the Faroe Islands to cease whale hunting. So far, about 380,000 people have signed the protest. Some of these signatures even come from people in the Faroe Islands themselves.

The campaigners aim to get 500,000 people to sign. They are also concerned that information about grindadráp is not included in tourist brochures, so tourists are not aware of what they might witness.

Modern Times

One of the campaign leaders, named Rababy, says the aim is not to attack Faroese culture or people but to end grindadráp, which they say does not belong in modern times and is also hazardous to health. They are hoping for a dialogue with Faroese authorities on this matter, asserting that grindadráp is not a sustainable practice.

However, Euronews also cites sources in the Faroese government who say that grindadráp is a sustainable form of hunting and has long been internationally recognized as such. When the campaign has gathered all the signatures, they plan to send them to Aksel V. Johannesen, the Prime Minister of the Faroe Islands.

Translation by Sea Shepherd Global

Stop the Grind's Response

To: Editor of Sosialurin

From: Stop the Grind Coalition

Re: Response to ‘Young people are afraid to participate in whaling’ by Aki Bertholdsen "TORA IKKI Í GRIND FYRI ÁGANGI"

Dear Editor,

We noted the article with the translated title ‘Young people are afraid to participate in whaling’ by Aki Bertholdsen, published in Sosialurin on august 4th 2023. As a coalition focused on the Grind whaling practice in the Faroe Islands, which includes members addressed directly in the article, we felt it was important to respond directly to a number of the points made in the article and to correct the record on the portrayal of our member, Sea Shepherd.

Firstly, it is correct that Paul Watson is no longer part of Sea Shepherd and, as logically follows, our coalition (Stop the Grind) is not associated with him or his newly established foundation in any way. We agree that it is unfortunate that he is bringing a ship into Faroe Islands’ waters, as history has already proven this to be ineffective in stopping any whaling or changing any locals minds about the drive hunts.

On the assertions made in relation to Sea Shepherd’s behaviour, we can confirm that its volunteers have not in any way been aggressive, sought to provoke whalers or made any attempt to prevent Faroese from killing whales. Had volunteers behaved in such a way we would surely have seen these volunteers stopped by police or charged with offenses. Sea Shepherd representatives are there to document - carefully, methodically and transparently - the killing of whales and dolphins during the Grind hunts. While that might be perceived as a provocation, its intent is solely to secure the documentation needed to challenge this cruel practice, in the Faroes and internationally. Their activity is not only legal, it is incredibly important and of enormous interest to many outside of the Faroe Islands – including to leading international environmental-related authorities.

It may be an inconvenient truth, but it is important to state directly and clearly - there is widespread and passionate condemnation of the Grind hunts and deep concern for its unnecessary cruelty and treatment of these important mammal species. The debacle cruiseliner incident in July this year was a great example of that – when unknowing tourists came upon a Grind in progress. This is a fact and it is not just a ‘Sea Shepherd issue’ – the interest in the work of our coalition by international governments, European MEPs and institutions and others is a very clear example of that. The strength of feeling is clearly illustrated by the petition mentioned in the article that had 380,000 signatures at the time of writing, and is now closer to 450,000 signatures. The world does not want the Faroese population to continue hunting whales and dolphins and wants the Grind to end.

Why should this be considered? Because human beings no longer can treat nature in a destructive and senseless way. In the last two centuries the human population has treated with disregard all biodiversity on the planet, comforting itself with stories of ‘sufficient abundance’ that it is OK to continue killing animals and destroying forests and other habitats without consideration of the effect on the ‘whole’ of nature. It has become painfully obvious that we as humans NEED nature, and we cannot continue to treat nature as we have. This includes the Grind hunt – it is not a tradition that is fit or appropriate for the modern age, when human society is desperately trying to salvage what is left of biodiversity species. The fact that whale and dolphin meat is riddled with metals and its consumption is scientifically confirmed to be dangerous for human health makes it even more puzzling and unnecessary.

It is not a surprise that the younger generation of Faroese is hesitating to be involved in the Grind if they can be easily identified as being part of this cruel act. As in the case with other acts of severe acts of human violence, perpetrators only feel comfortable when it is anonymous or conducted in secret. When individuals are openly linked with their violent behaviour and have to take responsibility for it, this creates a sense of shame. It is likely that the younger generation of Faroese are more environmentally enlightened and concerned about the future of the climate, and are reluctant to be associated with this hunt for a variety of reasons – and they are right to be concerned.

We hope that the Whale Hunting Commission and Minister Dennis Holm will not take steps to reduce the efforts that are made to bring transparency and accountability to the Grind – this is necessary and important on many levels and monitoring and documenting must be done in a non-confrontational way that is safe for all parties. We thank you for the opportunity to share our perspective in the spirit of balanced journalism.

Best wishes,

Stop the Grind Coalition

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