The Faroese are easy prey

Opinion | The Faroese pilot-whale hunt is admittedly graphic, but that doesn’t justify neo-colonial interference by environmental groups. People must be allowed to decide what they want to eat

The eyes and ears of an occupying force (Photo: Olavur Gregersen)

Olavur Gregersen

The Operation GrindStop 2014 was supported by Hollywood celebrity Pamela Anderson at a press conference in Tórshavn. In a news video at we could follow a discussion between Pamela Anderson and local Faroese about pros and cons in killing pilot wales, and she made the following statement: “Because this is so graphic that people are really drawn to it you know…. all the blood in the ocean makes people frighten and scared and really want to act out against it and they call people names and everything. I think that more education has to happen … but I still believe that … you know … they are just beautiful creatures!”

Spot on
And Pamela is absolutely right. Pilot whales are beautiful creatures. And killing them is graphic, colours the beaches with blood and upsets people who are not familiar with killing animals in nature. And that makes the Faroese people, as well as other communities around the Arctic, an easy prey for professional organisations raising funds for their particular environmental cause – in this case to ban the killing of pilot wales (grind) in the Faroe Islands.

These organisations are practicing a form of neo-colonialism within animal ethics. They want native populations to change practice, tradition and way of living. Not because there is a biological threat. But because these neo-colonialist – often based in urban communities in Europe and North America – want to impose their ethics on marine mammals on the people living in ocean communities in the outskirts of the world – such as Labrador, Greenland, the Faroes, Iceland, northern Norway etc.

An occupying force
I saw them one morning from my house by the beach (pictured above). Four young men dressed up in the Sea Shepherd uniform with all their gear as they were ready for a battle patrolling the beach. Every morning and afternoon. It’s like an occupying force has entered the islands. To change the animal ethics of the Faroese. Not by verbal argumentation and discussion. But by physical pressure and intervention. And thus Sea Shepherd has invaded the islands with 600 people over a period from May to October.

All available scientific information indicates, that the pilot whale hunting of the Faroese is biological sustainable. The killing practice has been improved over the last decades. There are health issues concerned with consuming the food – caused by the toxic industrial waste released in Europe and North America. But the Faroese must be allowed to decide what kind of food they want to eat.

So the arguments from Sea Shepherd in the Operation GrindStop2014 are all about animal ethics.

Is it to save the cash cow!
I presume these neo-colonialist within animal ethics find it easier to conduct fundraising among Western “feel good seekers”, if the impact of the sanctions do not affect those who pay. The negative impact on the social and economic sustainability in the rural communities concerned is apparently regarded as collateral damage. The consequences in terms of potential bad image and trade embargo can be devastating for these communities that already are struggling with challenges of depopulation and welfare standards.

It must be costly to run a campaign with 50-100 people permanently based and patrolling on 18 islands in the North Atlantic. I presume that’s why Pamela Anderson was embedded with the Sea Shepherd troops. The battlefields are mainly on the web and in the social media and a celebrity attracts interest.

In this fight the native population suffers badly with their sustainable way of making a living by and in the ocean. We are not geared and prepared for this kind of warfare. After all – the Faroe Islands is a peaceful place. There is very little crime, high level of trust, we take care of each other, most have strict ethical standards based on cultural and religious values, and in general there is good quality of life. We are not used to urban guerrilla methods with the international press. As Pamela says: it is graphic, bloody and makes people frighten and scared. In other word: excellent media stuff!

Please – fight real problems!
The Faroese are an easy prey for neo-colonialist predators within animal ethics such as Sea Shepherd.

As Faroese we are brought up to be friendly to visitors. I hope Pamela Anderson will have a pleasant visit on the islands. But I also hope she will be educated about the facts of pilot whale killing and learn to – if not appreciate – then at least respect our way of living.

And to neo-colonialists within animal ethics: please – find the courage to fight serious and real problems in your own backyard. And leave us alone!

The author is the managing director of Syntesa Partners & Associates.

Originally published by The Arctic Journal. Re-published here with the permission of the author.

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