Commentary by Captain Alex Cornelissen, CEO of Sea Shepherd Global.
After three months of campaigning in the Faroe Islands, the similarities between the Canadian harp seal massacre and the Danish pilot whale slaughter are starting to stack-up.
At first glance, the most obvious is the senseless mass slaughter of marine mammals, second only to the unlimited government support of such massacres.
The big difference, of course, is that in 2008 Canada was acting under Canadian law -even though that law was clearly in violation of basic human rights – using Canadian resources to support the seal hunt.
In the case of the pilot whale slaughter, however, Danish resources are exploited outside of Denmark, in Faroese waters at the behest of Faroese law – even though that law is currently disputed in the Faroe Islands. At least that’s the story that that Danish government is selling.
On April 12, 2008 the Sea Shepherd ship, Farley Mowat, was boarded and taken by armed force, by agents acting under the direction of the Canadian Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The ship was seized and our crew was terrorized with firearms and excessive force in waters outside the 12 nautical mile territorial limit of Canada.
I was Captain of the Farley Mowat at that time. My crew and I were accused of the “crime” of breaking seal “protection” regulations. Our true “offence”? Exposing the horrific, government-backed, mass slaughter of seals in Canada.
This year we have seen an incredible show of force from Denmark to support the slaughter of pilot whales in the Faroe Islands, perhaps even greater than the Canadian government’s support for the seal hunt in 2008.
2 additional coastguard vessels
2 DFO airplanes
2 military airplanes
1 SAR speedboat
1 air force helicopter
1 high speed boat
1 coastguard ships
4 coastguard RIBs
1 police RIB
2 further unidentified RIBs
Since 2014, 16 Sea Shepherd volunteers have been deported from the Faroe Islands, 10 in the last month alone. We have had our assets seized illegally on a number of occasions, we face constant harassment by authorities in what is starting to look like the actions of a police state, and our crew has been unlawfully denied entry into the country. Now, some are calling for authorities to make the filming of the grindadráp illegal, and others for an across-the-board ban to stop anyone wearing Sea Shepherd clothes from entering the archipelago.
But how far is Denmark willing to go to silence Sea Shepherd? Are they also going to board one of our ships, like the Canadian authorities did? Are they going to try to stop our cameras from exposing the truth about Denmark’s involvement in the grindadráp? Are they going to arrest our crew at gunpoint, further supporting these violations of EU law?
If the Faroe Islands is indeed a territory outside of Danish rule, as Denmark would have the world believe, then why is Denmark wasting millions of its taxpayers’ money to protect the grindadráp? Why is Denmark using its influence in the EU to seize the Sam Simon’s small boat for a breach of Faroe Islands law? And why are Danish police officers acting on the orders of politicians in the Faroe Islands to enact Faroe Islands laws, in breach of Denmark’s laws?
Denmark is guilty of violating its EU responsibilities and laws by supporting the grindadráp. With every additional action that the Danish government takes to endorse the on-going slaughters, it further implicates itself in this horrific crime.
Denmark can continue to target Sea Shepherd, throwing its military resources at us at the expense of the Danish taxpayers, but this will not stop us. There is simply no place in the 21st century for the senseless and needless killing of sentient beings. Wherever this happens - in Japan, Iceland, Canada or Denmark - we will continue to stand-up against the atrocities in order to defend, conserve and protect our oceans and the precious marine life in them.
Operation Sleppid Grindini
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