Sea Shepherd Conservation Society launches action in Faroes
The anti-whaling group said it will erect a 'wall of sound' in the sea to deter the killing of hundreds of pilot whales in the Faroe Islands.
Sun, Jul 24, 2011 at 11:55 AM
SEA SHEPHERD: Earlier this year, Paul Watson, Sea Shepherd’s founder, launched an aggressive and successful campaign against Japanese whalers operating in the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica. (Photo: ZUMA Press)
Anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd said Thursday it will erect a "wall of sound" in the sea to deter the killing of hundreds of pilot whales in shallow coves along the Faroe Islands, a Danish territory.
Using two ships and a helicopter, the U.S.-based activists will start their operation on Friday, Sea Shepherd's founder Paul Watson said at the close of a meeting of the International Whaling Commission.
"We intend to deploy acoustic devices to lay down a wall of sound in the path of the migrating whales to prevent them from approaching the islands," he said.
"Some of the devices are floating, some are dragged behind a ship and some are sunk in the ocean," he told AFP.
Earlier this year, Watson launched an aggressive — and, from his viewpoint, successful — campaign against Japanese whalers operating in the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica.
Japan recalled its fleet in February, a month ahead of schedule with only one fifth of its planned catch, citing interference from Sea Shepherd's vessels.
The IWC has banned all types of commercial whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Japan conducts its hunt there under the guise of "scientific research", setting self-determined quotas averaging about 1,000 whales each year over the last five years.
In the Faroes, Sea Shepherd will mobilize its flag ship Steve Irwin and a fast-interceptor vessel donated by the Brigitte Bardot Foundation, an animal rights group founded by the former French actress.
Baptised Operation Ferocious Isles, the campaign will last two months.
"We don't wish to dialogue about the obscenity, we wish to stop it," said Locky Maclean, captain of the interceptor, the Brigitte Bardot.
"The rights of these whales to live takes precedence over the 'rights' of the Faroese to murder them," he said in a statement.
Whaling in the Faroes stetches back to the earliest Norse settlements more than 1,000 years ago, and community-organised hunts date to at least the 16th century.
Most Faroese consider the annual hunt — in which the three-to-six metre sea mammals are driven by a flotilla of small boats into a bay or the mouth of a fjord — as an integral part of their culture and history.
Sea Shepherd has intervened several times before in the Faroes with patrols, in 1985, 1986 and again in 2000.
But this is the first time they will attempt to prevent the whales from entering the bays where the killing historically takes place.
Watson compared the Faroes whale hunt to the slaughter of dolphins that occurs each year near the Japanese village of Taiji, highlighted in the Academy Award-winning documentary "The Cove."
The Faroe Islands, home to around 48,000 people, have been an autonomous Danish province since 1948. The archipelago is situated between Norway, Iceland and Scotland in the North Atlantic ocean.
Pilot whales, which feed primarily on squid, have a distinct, rounded head with a very slight beak. Males weigh up to three tons, twice as much as females.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species does not list the status of the pilot whale due to lack of data.
But long-finned pilot whales — the kind hunted in the Faroes — are generally thought to number in the hundreds of thousands, perhaps as many as a million.
Copyright 2011 AFP Global Edition