After one of the worst years for dolphins in the Faroe Islands in history - Sea Shepherd’s determination to end the grindadrap now intensifies with a significantly upscaled 14th campaign year (our 7th consecutive year on the Faroe Islands). The new campaign will use new resources, more volunteer crew on the ground for longer than ever before, and we will have experienced media teams with us for the entire campaign.
Sea Shepherd was first activist group in the Faroes in 1983, with further direct-action campaigns in 1985, 1986, 2000, 2011, 2014 and 2015. Then due to vessel restrictions directed at Sea Shepherd as well as new Faroese legislation preventing interventions from any activists against the grindadrap - Sea Shepherd UK launched ‘Operation Bloody Fjords’ with land-based crew being sent to the islands every year since 2017 to investigate, document and expose the barbaric hunts to the world to bring pressure on the Faroese to end the grindadráp. Our crew have been instructed since 2017 to make sure that they film and photograph the killing of Atlantic White Sided Dolphins which (unlike with the killing of pilot whales from which the grindadrap gets its name), has always been a story the Faroese Media, their tourism board ‘Visit Faroe Islands’ and their government actively suppressed with few images and no video published. To make this point our Operation Bloody Fjords logo was designed with both a pilot whale and an Atlantic white-sided dolphin.
Sea Shepherd’s volunteer crew over the years 2017 to 2021 have documented 47 grindadrap hunts, including 13 where Atlantic White Sided dolphins, Northern Bottlenose Whales or Bottlenose Dolphins were killed:
5th July at Hvannasund - 70 Long-finned pilot whales
8th July at Hvannasund - 71 Long-finned pilot whales
9th July at Tórshavn - 26 Long-finned pilot whales
10th July at Skálabotnur - 2 Long-finned pilot whales
16th July at Vágur - 30 Long-finned pilot whales & 12 Atlantic white-sided dolphins
17th July at Hvannasund - 191 Long-finned pilot whales
25th July at Syðrugøta - 16 Atlantic white-sided dolphins
5th August at Funningsfjørður - 133 Atlantic white-sided dolphins
5th August at Hvannasund - 39 Long-finned pilot whales & 1 Atlantic white-sided dolphin
18th August at Tórshavn - 61 Long-finned pilot whales
20th August at Borðoyarvík - 27 Long finned pilot whales
21st August at Skálabotnur - 48 Atlantic white-sided dolphins
22nd August at Húsavík - 19 Long-finned pilot whales
29th August at Hvannasund - 46 Long-finned pilot whales
1st September at Bøur - 29 Long-finned pilot whales
14th June at Sandur - 4 Long finned pilot whales
30th June at Borðoyarvík - 26 Long finned pilot whales
24th July at Tórshavn - 51 Long finned pilot whales
30th July at Sandavágur - 135 Long finned pilot whales & 1 Bottlenose Dolphin
30th July at Tórshavn - 38 Long finned pilot whales
31st July at Húsavík - 22 Atlantic white-sided dolphins
16th August at Hvannasund - 87 Long finned pilot whales & 12 Atlantic white-sided dolphins
21st August at Sandavágur - 75 Long finned pilot whales
29th August at Hvalba - 4 Northern Bottlenose whales
5th September at Bøur - 1 Long finned pilot whale
11th September at Hvalvik - 210 Atlantic white sided dolphins
16th September at Norðragøta - 12 Long finned pilot whales
21st September at Syðrugøta - 51 Long finned pilot whales
2nd August at Hvalvik - 23 long finned pilot whales
27th August at Vestmanna - 98 long finned pilot whales
9th September at Trongisvágur - 49 long finned pilot whales
28th September at Sandvik - 4 long finned pilot whales
2020 (campaign significantly restricted by Covid-19 regulations)
17th August at Sandvik - 6 Northern Bottlenose whales
19th August at Hvalba - 5 Northern Bottlenose whales
16th October at Hvalvik - 66 long finned pilot whales
28th April at Hvannasund - 10 long finned pilot whales
29th May in Torshavn - 22 long finned pilot whales
26th June at Leynar - 52 long finned pilot whales
27th June at Hvannasund - 123 long finned pilot whales
7th July at Sandavagur - 77 long finned pilot whales
8th July at Hvalba - 136 long finned pilot whales
1st August at Hvannasund - 38 long finned pilot whales
10th August at Skalabotnur - 24 long finned pilot whales
10th August at Klaksvik - 38 long finned pilot whales
16th August at Leynar - 38 long finned pilot whales
1st September at Leynar – 57 long finned pilot whales
12th September at Skalabotnur - 1428 Atlantic white sided dolphins
Video and hundreds of images are now freely available to the media, with many of these published also on our campaign’s portfolio page at: https://seashepherduk.myportfolio.com/
The most recent Atlantic White Sided Dolphin hunt last year on September 12th was filmed by a Faroese Sea Shepherd crewmember and the resulting images and video caused international outrage. In that single hunt a total of 1428 Atlantic White-Sided Dolphins were driven 45km over about 5 hours by speed boats and jet-skis into the shallow waters at Skálabotnur in the Faroe Islands. Every single member of that pod was killed.
This hunt was the largest single hunt of dolphins or pilot whales in Faroese history (the next largest being 1200 pilot whales back in 1940) and is possibly the largest single hunt of cetaceans ever recorded worldwide.
The dolphin massacre was cruel, drawn out and badly managed by the grind foremen with animals left suffering and waiting to be killed for far too long - that it is no surprise the hunt was criticized publicly in the Faroese media and even by some outspoken pro-whalers and politicians in the Faroe Islands.
Sea Shepherd’s footage showed many of the dolphins were still alive when they were thrown ashore onto other recently killed members of their family pod. Photos also showed many of the dolphins had been run over by motorboats, essentially hacked by propellers, which would have contributed to their slow and painful deaths.
Within days, Danish newspaper Ekstrabladet published interviews with locals, whose full names are redacted for their families’ safety, explaining how a lot of Faroese are furious with what happened. “My guess is that most of the dolphins will be thrown in the trash or in a hole in the ground,” said one. “We should have quotas per district, and we should not kill dolphins,” said another. One local has asked Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen to investigate the matter, saying “If she expresses her criticism, then it will also be easier for the locals who want this barbaric tradition stopped.” Others express worry that the international press showing the slaughtered dolphins put their exports at risk (the Faroe Islands export salmon to the UK, US, and Russia).
Even the local Faroese press, usually reluctant to publish anything against the hunt, quotes Hans Jacob Hermansen, former chairman of the Grind, saying the killing was unnecessary.
To get a sense of scale; this single hunt of 1428 Atlantic White Sided Dolphins at Skálabotnur significantly exceeded the numbers of dolphins killed during any full 6-month hunt season in recent years at the infamous ‘Cove’ at Taiji in Japan.
This cruel and unnecessary hunt was carried out towards the end of the summer when the Faroese have already killed 615 long finned pilot whales, bringing the total number of cetaceans killed in 2021 in the Faroe Islands to a shocking 2043.
4 days after the unprecedented dolphin hunt, the Faroese Prime Minister Bárður á Steig Nielsen stated “We take this matter very seriously. Although these hunts are considered sustainable, we will be looking closely at the dolphin hunts, and what part they should play in Faroese society. The government has decided to start an evaluation of the regulations on the catching of Atlantic white-sided dolphins”.
Over 5 months later Prime Minister Bárður á Steig Nielsen remains virtually silent on the dolphin hunt and his promised review. However this week the Faroese Parliament (Løgting) discussed the matter though any decision seems to be still weeks away, if indeed any decision is made at all with many speculating that the Faroese parliament is stalling to see if the international outrage subsides.
However, Sea Shepherd, together the London based impact consultancy ‘Shared Planet’ and our growing #StopTheGrind coalition has been working hard to make sure that pressure on the Faroese only intensifies this year.
Our coordinated multi-pronged strategy has already started with Conservationists, NGOs, Politicians, Celebrities, lawyers, and commercial stakeholders working to achieve positive change on different aspects of the ‘Grind’ including working to have future trade agreements with the UK and other nations include a condition that the Faroe Islands no longer kills dolphins and pilot whales.
“The UK and indeed all other nations where dolphin hunts and whaling are already banned must make it clear that they have Zero-Tolerance of the cruel Faroese grindadrap hunts. The pilot whales and other dolphin species killed in the Faroe Islands already face many challenges to their future survival from climate change, by-catch, overfishing, noise and chemical pollution, lost / discarded ghost fishing gear, plastics in the ocean and microplastics in their food chain. Ending the killing of hundreds, sometimes thousands of dolphins each year can, unlike the other issues, be achieved almost immediately if the political will exists – and we as citizens must make sure that our politicians act on our behalf so that our children and future generations can see these magnificent and intelligent species around our shores and not just as an entry under ‘extinct species’ in books and on the internet” - Rob Read, COO at Sea Shepherd UK
Every year, Sea Shepherd encounters more Faroe islanders who are opposed to the Grind, but who feel unable to speak out publicly for fear of reprisals. However, progress is being made and now we have both Faroese crew and other collaborators who we’ll support and encourage their efforts to bring an end to this needless and cruel slaughter of Pilot Whales and other dolphins.
During 2021 our crew experienced more support than ever before from Faroese citizens - not only against the grindadrap hunts but also for other Sea Shepherd campaigns around the world. This year our international volunteer crew will do everything we can to engage with and encourage more Faroese citizens and look towards establishing a Sea Shepherd Faroe Islands chapter.
Sea Shepherd also continues our campaign for international pressure on the Faroe Islands to end the pilot whale and dolphin hunts. We call upon both compassionate citizens and companies to boycott especially Faroese seafood products, for tourists to choose more whale and dolphin friendly destinations, and for Cruise Ship Companies to reconsider any future visits to the islands until the grindadráp hunts are banned.
TAKE ACTION TODAY!
As an individual, you can help our #StopTheGrind coalition by visiting: https://www.stopthegrind.org/take-action and sign all the listed petitions.
If you are a public figure, stakeholder, company or NGO you can join the coalition at: https://www.stopthegrind.org/the-coalition
Further information on the Faroese Grindadráp hunts:
The grindadráp (or ‘grind’ as the hunts are commonly called) can happen at any time at any of the 26 designated killing bays around the islands, with most of the hunts occurring between June and September.
The grindadráp has no quota and the Faroese usually authorize a hunt when a pod is spotted near the coastline. Typically, around 850 small cetaceans are killed each year and every member of every pod is killed including pregnant mothers, juveniles, and weaning calves.
The grindadráp would be totally illegal under European Union legislation, because in the EU (including the kingdom of Denmark) is illegal to kill, harass or stress any cetaceans. Despite the Kingdom of Denmark being in the EU, the Faroe Islands is not, although the islands are within Europe and benefits substantially from subsidies of around $100million (USD equivalent) from Denmark as well as having free trade agreements with the UK and EU.
The pilot whale meat which is contaminated by DDT, PCB and industrial heavy metal pollutants including mercury - poisons not only the Faroese people, but also tourists. The hunts are fully sanctioned by the Faroese government, defended by the Kingdom of Denmark (via the Danish Navy, Police and Court systems) and is continued as little more than a national sport poorly justified with arguments of sustainability, history and culture.
The horrifying number of each dolphin and whale species killed in the Faroe Islands since 2017:
Yr.2017 - 1203 pilot whales and 488 Atlantic white sided dolphins
Yr.2018 - 625 pilot whales, 255 Atlantic white sided dolphins and 1 bottlenose dolphin (unreported by the Faroese in official statistics but documented on video by Sea Shepherd crew present at the hunt)
Yr.2019 - 682 long finned pilot whales and 8 Atlantic white sided dolphins
Yr.2020 - 530 long finned pilot whales, 35 Atlantic white sided dolphins and 11 northern bottlenose whales
Yr.2021 - 615 long finned pilot whales and 1428 Atlantic white sided dolphins
For more information, or for press enquiries please contact Sea Shepherd on:
The web pages for Operation Bloody Fjords are at: https://www.seashepherd.org.uk/campaigns/operation-bloody-fjords/
The social media page for the campaign is at: https://www.facebook.com/OpBloodyFjords/
View photos and videos from Sea Shepherd UK’s campaigns including the last 5 years of Operation Bloody Fjords at: https://seashepherduk.myportfolio.com/