25th May 2020
Established 1872. Online since 1996.

Anti-whaling ship heads to Faroe to disrupt mass killing

, by , in Headlines, News

The anti-whalehunting vessel Sam Simon, which arrived in Lerwick yesterday, is today en route to Faroe with the aim of disrupting the mass killing of whales.

Sam Simon captain Locky Maclean and first officer Errol Povah

Sam Simon captain Locky Maclean and first officer Errol Povah

The vessel is one belonging to the Sea Shepherd organisation and together with two other ships in the fleet will spend the summer, the traditional hunting season, in Faroe. The 24 crew on board the ship, formerly a Japanese research vessel, will using various methods to try to save some of the pilot whales, which are driven into a fjord and killed in shallow water.

Captain Locky Maclean, from Canada, described the practice as “very barbaric”.

Captain Maclean said: “The suffering is immense. They are highly sentient creatures.”He described the hunts, or “grinds” as “a bit of a frenzy, with the whales thrashing and the adrenalin pumping in the men (and boys, who are allowed to take part).

First mate Errol Povah, also from Canada, said: “It’s a real family fun event, the water in the bay turns red.”

The grinds are allowed in 22 bays in Faroe and around 120 pilot whales can be killed in a single hunt. As they travel in family groups this could mean four generations of the same family being wiped out, said Capt. Maclean. Around 1,200 pilot whales are killed in any one season, he claimed.

When in Faroe the Sam Simon will use sonic devices to attempt to steer the pilot whales away from Faroe, which they pass on their migration route from the equator to Spitsbergen. This method has had “some success” in the past. A new Faroese law means that the Sam Simon is not allowed within one nautical mile of a pod of whales, but the crew hope that the presence of the ship in the bays will dissuade hunters.

Sea Shepherd will also have volunteers on land – last year around 400 travelled at their expense to the hunt and were prepared to get into the water to disrupt proceedings.

The anti-whaling vessel Sam Simon

The anti-whaling vessel Sam Simon

The grind is said to be “traditional”, but Capt Maclean dismissed that as “hogwash”. It was also “traditional”, he said, that women did not drive in Saudi Arabia. And he did not accept the fact that whale meat is eaten in Faroe – he said the [Faroese] surgeon general did not recommend eating it more than once a month because the flesh is full of mercury and the blubber full of dioxins. Whale meat is forbidden for pregnant women in Faroe.

He added: “The younger generation are rejecting it.”

Capt Maclean said he felt young people were slowly rejecting whaling too, but it would be a long process. The Sea Shepherd organisation is “not as popular in Faroe as other places”, he said, but does have Faroese followers on Facebook.

About Rosalind Griffiths

I am a Shetland Times reporter covering news, including health stories, and features. I have been in Shetland for more than 30 years.

View other stories by »


  1. David Spence

    I think it is an absolute disgrace and barbaric that the people of the Faroe’s should still be carrying out this butchery of pilot whales all because of tradition.

    The International community should force the people of Faroe’s to give up this killing and butchering of these beautiful animals, and to make Denmark to make this against the law………….just like what we have done in Britain with Fox Hunting (another barbaric, senseless killing of an animal to bring joy and happiness to the sick minded rich and well off – (something the vile Tories opposed, and also support such a killing – shame on the b********. ).

    I wish all the crew of the Sea Shepherd a successful and courageous campaign against a people who have no mercy or conscious in regards to the butchering and killing of these beautiful creatures………….all because of a stupid tradition.

    • Hallur Gregersen Andreasen

      I’ll have you know as you seem so unaware, that it is not only in the name of tradition. The whale meat is an exquisite meat, as in truffles would be for the french people. The food is free, and is distributed to the villagers. There are many people who benefit from this, and if the people, of the area where the grind is to take, have enough meat, the pod is ignored and not killed.

      The scene is indeed violent because of the blood merging with water, and big city eyes seeing an animal killed for the first time, but it is with mercy, as they do die within 3-0 seconds.

      But what I wanted to emphasice, is that the killing is for the exquisite free food and not bloodlust rage :).

  2. Haydn Gear

    I couldn’t agree more with David Spence over the killing spree of whales. It IS barbaric and in a world where conservation is taking place in so many places in so many ways ,it’s difficult to comprehend why such stupid “traditional” behaviour is thought by some to be acceptable. IT IS NOT!!! I hope that the people setting out to cause disruption are successful in their bid to become instrumental in making waves which might make the perpetrators realise what scum they are. Civilized??? That’s exactly what the blood thirsty murderers of whales are not and international law should ban it.

    • John Tulloch

      What’s the difference between pilot whales and red deer? When I go walking in winter I regularly see a trail of blood in the snow where a wounded deer has struggled to escape over long distances, pursued by people with dogs.

      I never see Greenpeace, though – I suppose that’s not as glamorous as pretending to be pirates or causing irrepairable damage to 3000-year-old monuments in Peru?

      And of course, their big pals WWF recently opposed a proposal for an international ban on export of polar bear products – can’t understand why but cynics suggest it was because the polar bear population is healthy and increasing and WWF can’t afford to lose their iconic symbol of global warming doom? Perish the thought!

  3. Pamela Stone

    Pilot Whales are not attacked with machetes and spikes and they do not suffocate.

    No doubt is, that the grindadráp has to end, more sooner than later.

    Misleading points will not help at all and Rosalind Griffiths should have done a better research.

  4. Heather Woolley

    I don’t think this article is fair or well written. I an absolutely against the killing of Pilot Whales in Faroe.But to stop it will take more than inflammatory reporting and spin doctoring.Open dialogue and trust between the Anti and Pro is the way forward.

    • John Ridland

      Well said Heather…!! Also what about sunday roast beef and chicken, even xmas turkey..?
      or Burger king.. KFC.. Tesco sausages….Co-op bacon
      Maybe the press can draw the line for us….?

  5. Sjurdur Hammer

    These kinds of articles are just clickbait and now I’m falling for it too. It would suit the newspaper to factcheck some things, and it would really suit the anti-whaling to stop lying. I agree that you have an honest and reasonable agenda, so the lying shouldn’t really be neccesary.

  6. Terry Dark

    As a Sea Shepherd supporter and Animal rights activists I am very dissapointed in this article, it is inflammatory and innacaurate:
    1. The whales are not “attacked with machetes”
    2. They are not killed by suffocation.
    3. This is very much a tradition.

    I think either the Captain doesn’t know his subject or he has been misreported.

    All this does is undermine our cause…

    Please correct your misinformation with a more realistic and balanced article.

    Thank you.

  7. Gina Gow

    This article is riddled with inaccuracies, unnecessary as the grindadrap is horrific enough as it is. Why does the journalist and interviewees feel the need to make it worse and lessen their own credibility?

    A) the average hunt takes 800 animals a year. That’s 800 too many but it’s a variable amount. The Faroese have kept detailed records of every single whale ever killed so the figures are known.

    B) the tradition has changed quite a lot since the start some 1300 years ago, in large part thanks to activists in the 1980s working to lessen the cruelty of the hunt as it was.

    C) machetes are not used. The whales are dragged up the beach with blunt hooks by their blowholes but they do not suffocate. They are killed by their spinal cord and surrounding blood vessels being severed. It’s bad enough a process as it exists.

    D) if an event has been going since 700AD it can be said to be traditional. Cars have only been in existence since 1885 so a pointless comparison with Saudi Arabia’s discrimination against women drivers.

    E) of course the whale meat and blubber is eaten the implication is that this hunt is purely sport which is inaccurate – it is done for free food. Whilst the meat is contaminated it is still eaten. Also no one is forbidden to eat it. There are recommendations which are voluntarily adhered to.

    So this article is bad journalism at best, manipulative at worse.