Anti-whaling activists barred from Denmark's Faroe Islands

Five anti-whaling activists ordered to leave Faroe Islands for disrupting traditional whale hunt

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Five activists from the militant Sea Shepherd conservation group have been ordered to leave the Faroe Islands after they tried to disrupt a traditional whale hunt in the autonomous Danish province, police said on Saturday.

Four were expelled on Friday and a fifth was to leave Saturday, police spokesman Christian Jonsson told Agence France-Presse, adding that they have been barred from the islands for a year.

A Faroe Islands court on Friday found the five guilty of disrupting the region's traditional "grind" pilot whale hunt, one of the activists said.

During the hunt, which many locals defend as a cultural right, the three-to-six meter (10-to-20 foot) sea mammals are driven by a flotilla of small boats into a bay or the mouth of a fjord before being killed by hand.

The whale meat and blubber are consumed by locals and considered delicacies on the archipelago, which is situated between Norway, Iceland and Scotland.

The court found Italian Marianne Baldo, Belgian Christophe Bondue, Frenchman Xavier Figarella, South African Rosie Kunneke and Kevin Schiltz from Luxembourg guilty of contravening the Faroese Pilot Whale Act, Kunneke told AFP.

Sea Shepherd has repeatedly attempted to highlight and stop the whale hunt, launching its latest action in the area - involving two vessels and dozens of activists - two months ago.

The group says 12 activists have been convicted since the start of the year. Around 60 Sea Shepherd activists are still in the archipelago.

Provincial authorities told AFP in an email that they would not "tolerate the disruption of the pilot whale drive in the Faroe Islands, which is a legal, fully regulated and sustainable use of an abundant natural resource."

They added, "Obstructing a whale drive can be dangerous and can put people and property at risk."

The Faroe Islands are home to just under 50,000 people and have been an autonomous Danish province since 1948.