Deborah Bassett Sea Shepherd
by Michael dEstries
Categories: Animals, Causes
Tags: , .
Photo: Deborah Bassett/Sea Shepherd

“Whale Wars: Viking Shores”, the new spin-off series we’ve been talking about since last summer, is finally coming to Animal Planet this Friday at 9PM. The new series marks the first time viewers will see the Sea Shepherd in action outside the icy waters of the Antarctic; instead focusing on the picturesque Faroese Islands and its annual bloody pilot whale slaughter known as “the Grind.”

“Justice takes precedence over the law. No law that [the Faroese] can pass is going to justify what they’re doing to those whales,” SSCS founder Paul Watson says. “We have to constantly remind the Faroese that the outside world is watching them.”

Indeed, the spotlight has never been larger on the Faroese, which has a population of just under 50,000. We recently spoke with Deborah Bassett, who participated in last summer’s campaign, for some some insight on the new series, behind-the-scenes drama, and her role in future SSCS efforts.

Ecorazzi: How well did the new mobile acoustic “wall” work to deter the whales? I know it was tested first (I believe) in summer 2010, but were any upgrades made to the tech to enhance its effectiveness during this campaign?

DB: Well, I don’t want to give away too many details before the premiere of the show, but like every Sea Shepherd direct action campaign there are always unforeseen challenges and victories as well. You will have to tune in to Animal Planet on Friday nights In April and May to see what happens!

Ecorazzi: How large was the entire team (land, air, sea) that took part in “Ferocious”?

DB: Our combined crews of The Steve Irwin, The Brigitte Bardot and land team consisted of close to 50 international citizens. Many Sea Shepherd/Whale Wars veterans were on board for “Operation Ferocious Isles” including Peter “The Hammer” Hammerstedt, Laura Dakin, Chad Halstead, Fiona McQuaig, Pilot Chris Altman and Captain Locky Maclean as well as several new recruits. This was an all hands on deck effort and our entire crew worked tirelessly and seamlessly together to patrol the 23 hunting bays via land, air and sea patrol.

Ecorazzi: Can you tell us about about one or two more memorable experiences you had during this campaign? 

DB: Successfully driving our Sea Shepherd van adorned with gruesome images of slaughtered pilot whales from past “grinds” into the heart of the national annual Faroese parade was certainly a highlight.  Our objective was to bring about public awareness and discussion surrounding the outdated cultural tradition and this festival presented the perfect opportunity to engage many of the locals on the subject and hear their side of the story.

I was completely astounded by the lack of empathy for the whales who are barbarically slain during the grind and heartlessly viewed as a food source–even though local and international scientist collectively agree that  pilot whale meat is highly toxic for human consumption and the hunt is no longer needed for survival. It was amazing to see the amount of confrontation coming from a culture who supposedly “pride” themselves on such a tradition and their defensive and aggressive reactions clearly spoke volumes about the grotesque and shameful reality of the grind.

Paul Watson’s arrival to the Faroe Islands was also a pivotal moment in the campaign as it clearly indicated to the Faroese that we meant serious business and that we were prepared to confront the issues head on and directly intervene against the grind if need be.

Ecorazzi: Does SSCS have “undercover” people in the Faroes monitoring events during pilot whale season? 

DB: While I am not at liberty to discuss Sea Shepherd campaign tactics or strategies, for somewhat obvious reasons, I will say that the notion of “compromise” simply does not exist in Captain Paul Watson’s vocabulary. That being said, I can ensure you and also send a friendly reminder to the Faoroese that this is not the last that have seen or heard from The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Ecorazzi: Will you participate on any upcoming campaigns with SSCS? 

DB: Absolutely. Sea Shepherd is really a core philosophy and way of life for me. I was first inspired by Captain Paul Watson in 1998 when he spoke at my university and I have avidly followed his numerous and successful campaigns ever since. In my opinion, he can be directly credited for creating the largest direct action conservation movement on the planet and it is an absolute honor and privilege to serve alongside him.

I am always ready and willing to step up to the plate, but regardless if I am at sea or working from behind my desk in LA, I will continue to support and promote the critical marine conservation issues and Ocean “clients” that Sea Shepherd represents. I am grateful to have been given a voice and intend to use it for those who can not speak up to defend themselves–this is certainly not the last that you have seen or heard from The Debster!

Check out a trailer for “Viking Shores” below. Also look for Deborah Bassett on tonight’s “Last Call with Carson Daly” at 1:30AM.

About Michael dEstries

Michael has been blogging since 2005 on issues such as sustainability, renewable energy, philanthropy, and healthy living. He regularly contributes to a slew of publications, as well as consulting with companies looking to make an impact using the web and social media. He lives in Ithaca, NY with his family on an apple farm.

View all posts by Michael dEstries →
  • guest

    The article fails to mention that the apparent strategy of the Faroese was NOT to hold a grind while the Sea Shepherds were there and as soon as they left they commenced with a grind.

  • Anonymous

    The romika troll has appeared once again to repeatedly spam ecorazzi articles with anti-SSCS rhetoric fueled by his support for the brutal and bloody Canadian baby seal slaughter — another subject of SSCS protest and direct action.

    Pro-whaling propagandists like to gloss over the fact that there is absolutely no economic or nutritional need to kill pilot whales in the Faroe Islands. Faroese doctors even advise against eating pilot whale meat due to health concerns over toxic contamination including mercury and PCBs (among other pollutants).

    This needless and brutal slaughter of pilot whales amounts to nothing more than a sick habit to entertain the blood lust obsessions of people who enjoy killing.

    First of all, the hunts are opportunistic and do not exist to prevent starvation in any way. In fact, the biggest export of the Faroe Islands is food (ie: fish). 60% of the meat produced in the country comes from locally raised sheep and the cattle industry is growing there. Fish farming is another big producer (again much of it for export) and of course the Faroes claim huge quotas of ocean caught fish as well.

    Second, the people of the Faroe Islands enjoy a high standard of living like other European countries and are not fiscally dependent on killing pilot whales either.

    Third, the toxic contamination of pilot whales (and all toothed whales and dolphins) is a global concern but particularly more so for people who foolishly eat these animals.

    There is simply no rational reason to conduct these mass killings — and so the argument devolves into a very insular “you can’t tell us what to do” mindset. The fact is, the sick people who love killing these animals with their own hands, who revel in the bloodshed, are the only group that want to see this so-called “tradition” continue.

    Not to mention that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea calls for all nations to cooperate for the conservation of marine mammals — and EU law prohibits the slaughter of whales and dolphins — among other international protections.

    Arguing that the pilot whale hunt is sustainable is like arguing that dissecting live house cats is sustainable. This is not an argument over numbers.

    The Faroese simply don’t need whales for food or economic success, but they enjoy the act of killing helpless intelligent animals. They do it because they love it.

  • Dawn Taylor Bechtold

    Im sorry I have to say it like this but what you say is asinine. This is a national series and of course it needs to stay compelling so yes they need to get their shot but captain Paul has been around a long time before there was a camera in his face he is about conservation nothing else.