In the wake of all the recent whale hunting action, there are now a surprising number of involved parties in the Faroe Islands. Here’s a little “Who’s Who” and update about each of them!
Vice Magazine – Ed Ou and Elise Coker
A duo of journalists have been spending a few months in the Faroe Islands to create a documentary about the whaling for Vice magazine. I have followed their postings in various Facebook groups and even had a chat with Ed myself. I am very excited to see their documentary, as I believe it will be one of the most balanced explorations of the grindadráp tradition to come out in international media so far.
Here you can listen to an interview conducted by Kringvarp Føroya with the two journalists.
The two were, of course, happy to have been in the islands during the Sandoy grind, where they gathered a lot of footage. They have also met with many Faroese whalers, families, and various other parties in their attempt to portray the multiple sides of the issue. Ou says that while the grindadráp itself will be the single biggest focus of their work, “we’re also showing other things, like daily life, we’re showing grocery stores, just people doing their thing, music, all that stuff… and that will like hopefully put the grind into context.”
“The Propaganda Busters” – Tony Marano and friends
American right-wing vlogger Tony Marano, or PropagandaBuster, has come to the Faroe Islands to show his support for Faroese whaling and disdain for the Sea Shepherd Organization. Marano, who is also very critical of many domestic issues in the United States, first attracted a large following for his videos when he came out in favor of Japanese whaling and other nationalist issues. Naturally, this made him very popular with a large segment of the Japanese population. Marano was even offered a Book + DVD deal, which has been released in Japan under the title “The Speeches from Texas Daddy.”
Marano had already attracted the attention of many Faroese with his posts and videos calling Sea Shepherd “the clowns of the floating circus.” His visit to the Faroes has been advertised in the Faroese media since its announcement. Since coming to the islands, he has been welcomed by the mayor of Tórshavn, Heðin Mortensen, and Hans Jákup Hermansen from the Faroese Whalers’ Association among many other Faroese.
Marano has spent a lot of his visit looking for and confronting “clown cars” full of Sea Shepherd volunteers.
While some grindadráp proponents are in fact against the Japanese whale hunt and disagree with Marano’s views on that issue, and others simply find Marano’s approach overly silly or “cheap”, others find him hilarious and are happy to see Sea Shepherd getting some harassment of their own.
Patrick Corsi wrote in the Facebook group, Whale Wars Faroe Islands / Hvalakríggj í Føroyum:
“I must say that although Tony is giving them back some of their own medicine, and in a funny way sometimes, I find his approach a bit cheap, turning this whole affair of the grind & Taiji into a circus act, when it’s something very important to the Japanese local fisherman and the locals of the Faroe Islands; I believe it deserves more serious and respectful consideration than clowing around like Tony is doing. I’m starting to feel that he’s just going from place to place looking for controversial subjects to fuel his “Texas daddy Propaganda Buster blog / business than doing it out of genuine concern for the locals of Taiji or the Faroe Islands. Well, just saying that won’t help me make new friends I suppose, and sorry Tony if you read this; at least you’re out there while I’m back home not helping much, but I prefer to be honest than to make new friends or holding back what I feel about all this just to be popular on Facebook, haha. So everyone & anyone I have offended, please forgive me for my respectful honesty.”
To which Anker Eli Petersen replied:
“Ahh well, humour is one of many means to fight fanatism. And I have to admit, that I find Tony’s satire quite amusing. Especially when he calls them “girly men” – an insult to the phony “bad-ass” image tey (sic) try to create for themselves. :)”
Faroese Public Opinion
Most Faroese people were happy to see a successful grind take place on Sandoy on August 30th. Some were almost as happy about the police actions against Sea Shepherd — when volunteers from the organization tried to interfere, which is illegal under Faroese law, several were arrested and Sea Shepherd boats were also seized.
Katrin Petersen, a mother of three who lives on Sandoy, told me:
“Yes, I was there (at the Grind). And this time I also took some whale meat as well. I have otherwise been a pretty strict non-Grind-eater for many years. Because I was thinking of the contamination (of mercury). I thought that, “as long as I am of childbearing age…” But you know — these Sea Shepherd people provoke me! They shouldn’t be the ones to decide, whether we eat grind or not. And I am NOT against the killing, I have only been concerned about eating mercury…
So, I ate a meal of pilot whale for the first time in years — and mamma mia, it was delicious!
I think that the grindadráp went well. And also the work of the police went well. But — I think, it can’t go on like this, that we have three helicopters and 20 policemen there at the grind! So — it went fine, but I’m a little bit worried about the next time, the next year, and the next 5 years…”
(In the Faroese Original: Ja, eg var har. Og hesaferð fekk eg grindapart, eisini. Eg havi annars verið nokkso strict ikki-grindaetari í´nógv ár. Tí eg hugsi um dálkingina. Havi hugsað, at “so leingi eg eri í aldri at fáa børn…” Men veitst tú – hesi SS-fólkini provokera meg! Tey skulu so ikki gera av, um eg eti grind ella ikki. Og eg eri IKKI ímóti drápinum, eg havi bara ikki hug at eta kyksilvur….
So eg át eina grindamáltíð fyri fyrstu ferð í áravís – og mamma mia, tað smakkaði væl!
Eg haldi, drápið gekk væl. Og eisini arbeiðið hjá løgregluni gekk væl. Men – eg hugsi, at tað kann ikki blíva við, at vit hava 3 tyrlur og 20 politimenn við í grind! So – tað gekk fínt, men eg stúri eitt sindur fyri næstu ferð, næsta ár, og tey næstu 5 árini…)
Some Faroese are opposed to the whale hunt, and may stand with or separate from Sea Shepherd on the issue. After the grind on Sandoy, for example, I saw one Faroe Islander post an image of a famous Faroese waterfall, but with the water photoshopped to be blood-red like the sea becomes at a grind.
The Faroese media has also outdone itself with its least newsworthy Sea Shepherd story yet. Apparently, one of the Sea Shepherd volunteers had the audacity to hide… a geocache?
Must have been a slow news day.
Captain Paul Watson, for his part, has written the following about the grind on Sandoy:
“What we observed and the documentation we have secured is priceless. The publicity from the arrests has been amazing.
The Faroese police in the beginning saw the potential consequences and they said that it was best if a Grind did not take place because otherwise it would play right into Sea Shepherd’s hand. They were right.”
He also happily posted a political cartoon that was drawn about the event on Portal.fo:
Not only did Watson appreciate the publicity and footage from the Sandoy grind, he was also able to identify further silver linings in the situation:
“…Now that this slaughter has taken place, we can mention that over the last 85 days, Sea Shepherd boat crews have deflected three pods of whales away from the island before the killers could spot them. Unfortunately covering 18 islands is a difficult task, but I am proud of the fact that our volunteers saved those whales and made a valiant attempt to save these 33.
The positive side of this encounter is we now have evidence to implicate the Danish government and Sea Shepherd will take this evidence to the European Parliament to demand that action be taken against Denmark for collaboration with an illegal slaughter of whales. No European member of the EU may be involved with whaling, and although the Faroe Islands are not a member of the EU, they receive massive subsidies from the EU through Denmark. The Faroese may be exempt but Denmark is not and now we have the evidence that pilot whale blood in on the hands of Danish sailors and Danish Police. What is rotten in the Faroes is also very much rotten in Denmark.”