Whale Wars: Viking Shore

15 02 2013

In the North Atlantic, between Iceland and Scotland, lies a chain of islands with picturesque beaches and rolling green hills. The Faroe Islands are a self-governing Danish Territory of 50,000 people — descendants of Vikings, bound by proud tradition who have fished these waters for thousands of years. But there is a dark shadow over this beautiful land. Every year, Faroese people gather to herd pilot whales to their shallow shores to be killed for their meat, which is a food source. Whaling in the Faroe Islands has been practiced since the time of the first Norse settlements on the islands. The hunts, called grindadráp,, are non-commercial and are organized on a community level. The Faroese have legally hunted and used the non-endangered whales as a food source for over a thousand years.

Tómas H. Heiðar, chairperson of the Icelandic representation at the International Whaling Commission (IWC), told Fréttablaðið, “Iceland emphasized that the focus should not be on the terrorist organization Sea Shepherd but rather on those countries who help them, directly or indirectly.”

Sea Shepherd, officially known as the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, has used direct action to block whale and seal hunts, mostly in international waters. Their methods have included flashing laser pointers in the eyes of whalers, rockets,vandalizing nets, and blocking whaling ships.

Sea Shepherd has a special history with Iceland. In 1986, the group claimed responsibility for sinking two whaling boats in Reykjavík harbour. The act has never been forgotten by many Icelanders.

Will the Sea Shepherds return to Iceland? Greenpeace made visits to Ísafjörður in 2003, 2004, and 2005.

Will the Sea Shepherds return to Iceland? Greenpeace made visits to Ísafjörður in 2003, 2004, and 2005. (Picture from Kári Jó)

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