Activists from the Sea Shepard Conservation Group (SSCG) are flocking to the Faroe Islands this week to begin five months of protests against the annual cultural and historical killings of 1,000 pilot whales in October – a tradition known as ‘the grind’ that has been attracting worldwide outcry for decades.
Some 500 animal rights activists will patrol land and sea from mid-June until the end of October, when the traditional event occurs, according to natureworldnews.com.
Police are ready
Peter Thaysen, a police inspector on the islands, told Jyllands-Posten that the action plan is something they have known about for a long time.
“We have known since September last year that something would happen here this year," he said.
"Danish intelligence services have been monitoring the situation, so we are confident we can stop [the clashes] at sea and on land.”
However, the police cannot stop legal demonstrations.
Tradition versus conservation
Since the 1700s, the islanders have surrounded, herded and killed approximated 1,000 pilot whales every year in a cultural and historical event known as grindadráp.
The meat is divided up and handed out to participants. The event is regulated by the authorities, open to everyone and supposedly non-commercial, even though much of the meat is sold in supermarkets.
However, the island authorities ruled in 2008 that eating pilot whales is ill-advised due to their high levels of mercury, and the SSCG argues that the grind is a ‘mass slaughter’ and not necessary for sustenance like the Faroese argue
The SSCG first took up the cause of the slaughtered pilot whales in 1985 and has been actively campaigning ever since.
A normally quiet country
The Faroes are an isolated archipelago consisting of 18 islands located between Scotland and Iceland in between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean.
While it is part of the kingdom of Denmark, it has been a self-governing country since 1948.