Hello everyone and welcome to Sea And Human. Today we are going to talk about a very sensitive subject although still valid today. The question we are going to try to answer is, under cover of tradition,
can we tolerate all the wildest and most barbaric rites…
If I tell you that 1500km from Paris, hundreds or even thousands,
of cetaceans are killing each year? Should we call it “tradition”? I will of course
leave you free to judge for yourself. But before answering this question
let’s try to know a little more… The “Grind” – or how tradition is synonymous with murder Faroe Islands: their history These massacres take place in the Faroe Islands, a small presentation of the region.
This archipelago consists of 18 main islands between Iceland, Scotland, and Norway.
The Faroe Islands therefore are between the North Atlantic Ocean and the Norwegian Sea.
The archipelago was colonized in the 7th century by Vikings who fled the tyranny of
King of Harald 1st, king of Norway. Part of the Kingdom of Norway until 1386,
the Faroe Islands became Danish in 1814 following the dissolution
of the union between the Kingdom of Norway and the one of Denmark. It was especially at the end
of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century that the Faroe Islands experienced a national awakening
with the preservation of their language, a cultural and then governmental craze with the
creation of the first political parties. Following the Second World War,
the Denmark gave a great autonomy for the Faroe Islands.
But it was in 2000 that the Faroe Islands proposed a project of total independence, with their
neighbor Danish. Total independence project? Except for the currency which would
remain the Danish krone. Denmark replied that in the event of complete independence,
the Faroe Islands would no longer receive the annual financial assistance
of 1 billion danish krone and should repay their debt of 6 billion
danish krone. Faced with this ultimatum, the Faeroese government refused
and canceled the referendum. Four years later, a new referendum
was voted in the Faroe Islands, and the independence proponents gained with 50.72%
of the votes. But Denmark refuses again to accept the referendum. However, things may
change in April 2018 as the Faroe Islands will have a new referendum, and Denmark
has promised to accept the result. Faroe Islands, Denmark & EU: their relationship 49117, was the number of people in the
Faroe Islands in 2016. And 3%, this is the unemployment rate for about ten years,
one of the lowest in Europe. But this very low rate of unemployment is
mainly due to the mass exodus of young Faroese to Denmark rather than due to
an healthy economy. Economy which is based, mainly on
the products from the marine environment. Fishing, fish-breeding farms and
the fitting out of small boats are the main industries of this archipelago.
This is why 94% of their products exported are fish or fish products,
and boats. Their first import customer, is
obviously Denmark with 38%, followed by the United Kingdom with 29%. Finally,
10% of the Faroese GDP is due to the annual financial aid from Denmark.
The Faroe Islands, therefore, have been since 1948, a Danish protectorate,
enjoying a very great autonomy. But what is this autonomy? Well, today the
Faroe Islands have their own national anthem, their own language and their own flag.
The Faroese government, called Løgting, is working with the Danish
government on health care and education. But today it is still Denmark
that controls the police, defense, foreign policy and currency. Relations between the Faroe Islands and Europe
date from Denmark’s accession to Europe in 1973. The Faeroes, then refused
to enter the EEC, mainly because of the common fisheries policy. The Danish
archipelago felt that it was not in their interest to be part of Europe, so the
relations between the Faeroe and the European Union are linked only by two bilateral agreements on
free trade and one policy on fisheries. Moreover, every people
in the Faeroe Islands, whether Faroese or Danish, who has a Faroese
passport, is not a citizen of the European Union. But, on the other
hand, every Faroese who lives in the Faeroe Islands has the possibility for
applying for a Danish passport, thus becoming a citizen of the European Union and access to all the
facilities linked to the European agreements. We understand it quite easily, the economy of the Faroe Islands is closely linked to the
Denmark and the European Union, whether through annual financial aid or through the main export
products. Similarly, Denmark still controls the Ministry of Defense
and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. So to sum up, without Denmark and without
the European Union, the facilities that the Faeroe Islands have at
the present time would be no more. The Grind: Its History The first description of this hunt dates back
to the 16th century, although it is more than likely that this hunt has been practice
since the colonization of this archipelago in order to feed the population of Vikings.
In 1928, the Ministry of Public Health announced that the consumption of
dolphins and pilot whales was the only source of animal protein for this archipelago.
But for many years now, the Faroe Islands no longer depend
on these dolphins and pilot whales to eat their needs of protein.
Nevertheless, for 2 decades, this hunting persists and nearly 1000 dolphins
and pilot whales are slaughtered each year. Traditionally, this hunting involved
5 stages: tracking, hunting, slaughtering, dancing and distribution.
But today, dance is no longer realized, and this practice thus loses part of
its authentic side of its traditional side. You will understand, the word “Grind”
is a diminutive of the word Grindadráp meaning the slaughter of cetaceans.
At that time, spotting required making a fire to prevent that a group of cetaceans,
also known as pod, has been spot. In the same way, the conduct,
or the hunt, was driven by wooden boats and oars. This allowed
the younger Vikings to show their strength and power by successfully driving a pod to
the beaches where the slaughter will take place. But today, with our technical and
technological means, much has changed. The Grind: Nowadays Nowadays, the Faroe Islands obviously
benefit from the technological advances, in order to make a Grind happen. Sonar,
Radar, satellite imagery, helicopters, planes and ferrys are used to locate
a pod in a much easier way. Also, in order to drive the animals
to the beach, where they will be slaughtered, they no longer use wooden boats and oars,
but dual-engine boats, rapid intervention boats and Jet-ski.
Finally, in order to contact the coasts and say where the pod in question is,
they no longer use fires as before but they use VHF radios,
radios and satellite phones. Even today, hunting can take
a few minutes to several hours, causing stress and panic for
the cetaceans. Once the pod is spotted, the Faroese boats are placed behind him,
in a semi-circle and then fold the animals to one of the beaches or preselected bays.
Indeed, in the Faroe Islands, only 23 beaches are currently allowed
for the slaughter of animals. When pilot whales or dolphins
really feel stuck in this little bay, some of them are trying
to escape by the riverbank, where they will eventually end up s’ beach themselves.
The others, further back, will be towed and hoisted on the beach with hooks placed in the vent. Until 2015, the slaughter could be
carried out using traditional Faroese knives, used only for Grinds. For many years,
the Faeroes have been promising fast and painless slaughter. In this sense,
they created in 2011 a specific tool designed to limit the suffering of
the animal during the massacre. Unfortunately they sometimes have
to take it over several times to cut the spinal cord of the pilot whale. Especially at
the end of a grind that lasted several hours. Despite the fact that only this tool is
allowed for the killing of animals since 2015, the participants in this massacre
do not hesitate to use their traditional knife as soon as the pod is more important
than the number of these tools available. Successfully cutting the spinal cord of
a cetacean that can measure more than 6 meters long and weigh up to 4 tons all thanks
to a knife, can sometimes last several tens of seconds or even
several minutes, and thus cause a excruciating suffering for the animal These Grinds cause the death of all captured animals. In those,
including pregnant females and juveniles. Once the pod has been decimated,
the pilot whale flesh is cut and shared between the villagers of where the Grind
took place and the Grind’s participants. The Faroese continue to eat privately this pilot whale and dolphin meat. But many restaurants also offer dishes for tourists with this same animal pulpit. Unfortunately, today, a large quantity of this animal flesh is turned
into flour for fish farms, which are present in large numbers
in the Faroes Islands. These fish farms therefore eat their natural predator, which is
completely aberrant. As a result, they ingest the harmful elements present in this meat.
These are the same fish that will eventually end up in the stalls of
your supermarkets or fishmongers. In 2010, the organisation Sea Shepherd
was present in the Faroe Islands to document the progress of a Grind. The members
of this organisation then discovered real submarine mass graves,
where pilot whales uncut were in full decomposition. This is indisputable
evidence that some Grinds only occur for fun, and so that all pilot whale meat is not always used or consumed. The Grind: What is the impact on the ecosystem? The main victim of these Grinds is the black pilot whale of the North Atlantic.
It is part of CMS Appendix 2 which means that the IUCN has determined that,
although it is not threatened with extinction,
this species could become very quickly if its hunting is not strictly controlled.
There is currently no validated scientific data on
the estimated population of pilot whales in the North Atlantic. But with all the
current threats, such as these famous Grinds, such as military sonars gill nets
or trawling, biologists believe that the population of pilot whales could decrease by 30% over the next 3 generations. These are all the reasons that led Europe to add the pilot whale
to the list of strictly protected species in Appendix 2. And even if the Faroe Islands
are not part of the European Union, they remain, like we saw it
previously, under Danish protectorate. Denmark, for its part, has signed the
Bonn and Berne Conventions on the protection of migratory species and the conservation
of Europe’s wildlife. By not preventing these massacres, and by endorsing
them by sending police and boats from the Danish navy, Denmark violates
these conventions that he has yet signed. Consuming pilot whale meat:
what impact on the human body? Because of their position as top
predators in the North Atlantic food chain, pilot whales therefore ingest
large amounts of environmental pollutants. Meat resulting from the killings
contains high levels of heavy metals, such as copper and lead, and
very high levels of mercury. In 2008, Pal Wiehe and Hogni Joensen,
two prominent doctors in the Faroe Islands, reported that the pilot whale meat contained
too much mercury and was unfit for human consumption. One study has
shown mercury poisoning in several local residents. Mercury
poisoning causes damage to the neurological development of fetuses,
it also implies higher blood pressure and impaired immune system in children.
It also leads to increased cases of Parkinson’s disease,
circulatory problems and increased risk of infertility in adults. Feeding
children with pilot whale meat can be considered abuse,
according to these 2 doctors. Question not so stupid as that:
How can we prevent these slaughters? Well, that’s an excellent question that
the organisation Sea Shepherd has been trying to answer by being there many
times for more than 30 years. This organisation, often controversial,
is nevertheless the only one to want to act concretely and directly to stop these slaughters.
On a number of occasions, members of the organisation have tried to intervene peacefully
to prevent these Grind. After several violent arrests that did not have
the heavy consequences that the Faroese wanted, their actions made it
possible to highlight what happened in this archipelago.
The GrindStop campaign in 2014 had unexpected results, as only 53 pilot whales died thanks to the intervention of volunteers on the island. The year
2015 was less positive, although half of the annual average quota could have been saved.
Since the end of the 2015 campaign, Faroese laws have hardened against
volunteers and other members of organisations wanting to prevent these Grind. To do this,
new laws have emerged in the Faroe Islands. The obligation for every person,
including tourists, to warn local authorities of any fin seen.
The prohibition also to be within 2km of the least Grind if we
have not been authorized by the police. In case of non-respect of the laws,
severe fines and prison sentences may be applied. In addition, Sea Shepherd’s ships are prohibited from entering the
territorial waters, and their volunteers will be returned to customs in case of arrival.
Sea Shepherd has attempted to initiate legal proceedings against Denmark and the Faroe Islands
with the Parliament and the European Commission. Procedure that has been rejected by
the European Commission recently despite numerous photos and videos evidence, numerous testimonies,
a petition signed more than 250,000 times and the support of 27 members of
the European Parliament. As a result, no organisations has been present
on this island for 2 years now. Since the beginning of this year,
nearly 1605 cetaceans have died in this archipelago that seems untouchable. What can we do to prevent this? Well, first of all, let’s start by sending messages, emails and letters to
the Danish embassy in your country to show our will to stop
these slaughters. I will also put a standard letter in the description
below this video and the sending details, so that you can share your discontent. In the same way, let’s try to share
the information to the greatest number. Boycotting products from the Faroe Islands
and Denmark will have the only impact sufficient to be heard, that is, to touch the finances.
The tourism industry is also targeted by this boycott campaign by
avoiding going to these two countries. Ask our respective governments
to report on the 8 million euros in European subsidies (so with your money and mine)
that affects Denmark to protect its coastline and
to respect the conventions of Bonn and Berne that he violates cheerfully. We are now at the end of this video.
I hope that it has informed you, that you will have
learned a great deal, that you have become aware of the importance of contacting the right
institutions and making your voices heard. If you liked this video, do not forget to put some thumbs up, comment and share.
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soon for new « Recif’Eau” episodes. Reefly yours!