Public awareness of the awful atrocities committed against whales and dolphins has increased greatly in recent years, thanks in no small part to the ongoing work of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and the release of the 2009 documentary The Cove.
People were disgusted and appalled to discover that tens of thousands of dolphins and whales were being mutilated and slaughtered in one tiny fishing village in Japan every single year.
What is less well known, however, is that this is not an isolated incident, and atrocities just like Taiji are happening in other parts of the world as well.
The Taiji of the North
In the Faroe Islands, thousands of long-finned whales, dolphins and other small cetaceans are slaughtered every year. Many have termed the mass slaughter of these beautiful sea creatures as being the ‘Taiji of the North,” and this year Sea Shepherd has launched its biggest Faroe Island campaign to date. More than 500 Sea Shepherd conservationists have been directly involved in a campaign which not only seeks to directly prevent any animals from being murdered at sea, but also raises worldwide awareness of this disgraceful mass killing.
Each year, for hundreds of years, Faroes have taken part in a traditional activity known by locals as ‘the grind.’ Fishermen drive long-finned pilot whales towards the shore until they are close enough to be speared, pulled onto the beach, and have their spinal cords cut with a knife. In a single season more than 1,000 long finned pilot whales can be killed, in a massacre which leaves the waters blood red and the beaches scattered with dead bodies.
Operation Grindstop at Work
Operation Grindstop is combating the grinds with a multi-leveled plan, involving land and sea teams working in cooperation with each other. The 500 Sea Shepherd volunteers are covering 23 different landing bays, keeping watch to ensure that no whaling is taking place throughout the peak season from June to September. The onshore team are poised ready to take direct action to intervene should whales be driven towards the shore, and the offshore team are actively patrolling the coastline trying to deter whales from coming too close to danger.
As with all animal rights campaigns, direct action and intervention is only a part of the solution, and the Sea Shepherd volunteers working on Operation Grindstop are involved in global awareness campaigns, local education schemes and investigative work in an attempt to changes hearts and minds. Each day that goes by without a single killed whale is a victory for the team, and so far the operation has been a huge success in 2014.
Why Does the Killing Occur?
There are many cruel traditions around the world, and as a collective animal rights community, it is our job to raise awareness and put them to an end. This doesn’t mean vilifying those responsible for continuing age old practices, but instead showcasing the events and putting pressure on people not to support these actions.
An inside look into the issue in the Faroe Islands reveals that the situation is complex and contradictory. Many locals say it is an important part of Island tradition and culture, others claim it is essential for food, while others are opposed to it all together saying it is unnecessary in modern times.
Whatever the reason the islanders give for the continuation of this annual event, there can never be a justification for the annual slaughter of thousands of sentient beings. The animals can be thankful that the Sea Shepherd volunteers are watching out for them, and have so far prevented many deaths on the beaches of the Faroe Islands this year.