Herding whale hunters

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    The Ocean Warrior, flagship of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, today left its berth in Ft. Pierce, Florida, making for Europe and a campaign of direct intervention against the slaughter of thousands of pilot whales in the Danish protectorate of the Faroe Islands this summer.

    After crossing the Atlantic, the 180-foot vessel’s volunteer crew will make port in England, Germany, the Netherlands, and the Shetland Islands, gathering support to stop the hunt.

    Each year, between 1,000 and 2,000 pilot whales, along with bottlenose whales, dolphins, and orcas, are driven into shallow bays in the Faroes by small boats, then butchered alive in an operation called a “grind hunt.” The people of the Faroe Islands have the highest standard of living in Europe, and have no subsistence need for whale meat, most of which is dumped.

    “‘Operation GrindStop 2000’ will be the largest direct-action campaign against the Faroe Islands slaughter in more than a decade,” said Ocean Warrior Captain Paul Watson, president of Sea Shepherd. “We conducted the last significant campaign against the Faroes whale hunt in 1986. Though we weren’t able to end the hunt then, we succeeded in diverting a number of pilot whales away from the killing bays and focusing the world’s attention on the slaughter.”

    Over the past year, major European corporations including Tengelmann (with a large interest in A&P Supermarkets), Aldi, and Edeka have terminated their seafood contracts with Faroes suppliers at Sea Shepherd’s urging. The food stores, chain outlets, and restaurants participating in the boycott now number in the tens of thousands. A land campaign of demonstrations, boycotts, and media events will be taking place while Ocean Warrior is in the Faroes. Activists are identifying those companies who share complicity in the hunts through their continued commerce in seafood, the Islands’ economic mainstay. Ben & Jerry’s, due to its recent purchase by Unilever, is likely to be a primary target.

    In the 1986 campaign, Faroese gunboats pursued Sea Shepherd’s vessel and engaged in a tear-gas attack in an unsuccessful attempt to seize the ship and arrest the crew. This year, Denmark has dispatched a Danish warship to the Faroes. The Danish government is not allowed to support whaling of any kind under the rules of the European Union, and the grind hunt itself is illegal under the terms of both the Bonn Convention and European Wildlife Convention.

    “We will not be deterred by threats or actions,” said Captain Watson. “One way or another, we will stop the sport slaughter of these whales once and for all.”

    Sea Shepherd is inviting and strongly encouraging environmental and conservation organizations, animal welfare groups and individuals to actively participate in the campaign. We are working hard to insure a cooperative effort among groups and individuals. We believe that together we can bring an end to the most brutal, inhumane, pointless, wildlife slaughter in the world.

    Sea Shepherd