Sea Shepherd History Stopping the Grind
Sea Shepherd has been the leading opposition against the slaughter of pilot whales in the Danish Faroe Islands. Captain Paul Watson has led campaigns to oppose the hunt in 1985, 1986, 2000, 2011, and 2014. In 1985, the Faroese authorities found Sea Shepherd's presence in the Harbour of Torshavn to be so provoking that they were willing to cut a deal. In return for Sea Shepherd departing the Faroes, the Fisheries Minister assured that the killing would be halted for the remainder of the grind season - it would be a victory without the need for further confrontation. As a result, approximately 500 pilot whales were spared from a gruesome death.
One year later, Sea Shepherd returned to the Faroes, this time with a film team from the British Broadcasting Company (BBC). The BBC produced the award-winning documentary “Black Harvest” using video documentation taken during the campaign aboard the Sea Shepherd flagship. During the 1986 campaign, Faroese gunboats pursued the Sea Shepherd II and engaged in a tear-gas attack in an unsuccessful attempt to seize the ship and arrest the crew. The resulting media coverage, coupled with the fact that a number of pilot whale pods were diverted from the killing bays, brought more pressure to bear on the Faroese authorities to end the ferocious grind.
At the turn of the century, Sea Shepherd sent a ship to the Faroe Islands for the third time and was successful in convincing 20,000 stores in two grocery chains in Germany to boycott Faroese fish products.
In July 2010, Sea Shepherd sent an undercover operative to the Faroe Islands to document and expose the grind. This sting operation yielded shocking images of slaughtered female pilot whales laid out along the shore with their unborn calves cut out from their bodies. Such grotesque imagery and news of the mass slaughter spread fast and made international headlines, increasing the pressure to abolish this outdated practice.
In 2011, Sea Shepherd returned for Operation Ferocious Isles, with volunteer crew stationed on both land and sea. No pilot whales were killed while Sea Shepherd patrolled the islands. Animal Planet documented the campaign, and the horrors of the grind were exposed to a large international audience when the footage aired on the “Whale Wars” spin-off series, “Viking Shores.”
Over 500 volunteers from around the world joined Sea Shepherd for Operation Grindstop 2014. During the period that Sea Shepherd was present, only 35 Pilot whales were slaughtered in a grind that occurred on Sandur beach (Sandoy Islands). The Danish Navy and police arrested all of the Sea Shepherd crew on the island for attempting to prevent the brutal slaughter. Six land team crewmembers were later found guilty of interrupting the grind.
Later that year, the three-woman crew of Sea Shepherd small boat, Spitfire, were also arrested for helping to drive a large pod of hundreds of Atlantic white-sided dolphins away from the dangerous killing beaches of the Faroe Islands. Faroese officials did not call a grind, but Danish Police charged the Spitfire crew with failure to report the dolphin sightings to the grind master and police and, ironically, with “harassing dolphins.” The three women are still waiting for their day in court.
Sea Shepherd has been a leading voice for applying economic pressure on the Faroe Islands to end the grind by calling on compassionate people and companies to boycott Faroese seafood products until the mission is accomplished.
In June 2015, Sea Shepherd will return to the Faroe Islands for Operation Sleppid Grindini 2015. Led by our largest at sea presence in the region to date, comprising the Bob Barker, Sam Simon, and Brigitte Bardot, and supported by our dedicated land crew, we are once again ready to defend the pilot whales and other cetaceans targeted in the brutal grinds. The campaign goal remains the same: zero cetaceans killed.