A Not so Close Encounter with a Beach Foreman
Commentary by Captain Paul Watson
Kemm Poulsen is a big man and a really big talker. He calls himself a beach foreman and maybe he is. He brags about killing whales, teaches others to kill them as well, and claims they feel no pain. He called me a coward and said I would not dare come to the Faeroes and come ashore.
Last week he was filmed by Animal Planet’s film crew in a conversation with Sea Shepherd France President Lamya Essemlali. During the interview, Kemm told her that he would set me straight on the grind if I dared to come ashore to debate with him. Today, Kemm got his wish. Some of the crew and I were in the lobby of the Faeroes Hotel when whale-killer Kemm Poulsen walked through the door.
Lamya and a cameraman immediately went over to greet him and to tell him that I was in the lobby and now would be a great opportunity to confront me about the grind. Instead, the big talking macho killer of whales said, "I've changed my mind, it's worthless to talk to Paul, he's mad." He had nothing more to say and quickly made for the exit and to his car with the cameraman following him.
It seems that the whalers have no interest for a real debate with us. We tried to organize a public meeting but all our efforts to secure a venue were refused. The director of Nordic House was very friendly and supportive of the idea but he received a phone call from someone he would not identify and relayed to us that it would not be possible to rent the hall. We booked a conference room at the Torshavn Hotel only to have it cancelled the next day.
Kemm, having already revealed himself as a coward, enhanced his reputation further by distributing a letter to Sea Shepherd crewmembers calling on them to mutiny against me. The letter was amusing enough to have me include it here complete with its original spelling:
Paul Watson leader of terror organization Sea Sheppard is Mentaly ill
Everyone just a little logical sence can see it
Therefore this request to the crew and volunteers on his ship.
Pleas bring his ship in to nearest harbor, and try to talk him in to be treated for his mental illnes.
We have well educated doctors her in the Faroe island who are able to give him good treatment.
If he does not want to bee treated her. People in the faroes are very sympathetic. I am sure they will collect money for a flyticket too Paul Watson. If he in sted of being treated her, wish to be treated in familiar surroundings back home.
It is not safe for the crew and volunteers on his ship to go out on open sea with him as captain on the bridge.
Poul Watson is so mentally ill, that he is mentally disturbed. And can easely bring his ship and crew in danger with his insane acts.
(Producer of documentary Whale Wars in 1986)
Note: I’m not sure what he is implying by signing his letter as a producer of Whale Wars which he clearly is not. I posted the message on the ship’s notice board for the amusement of the crew
My trip onto land today provoked some hateful stares from some older people but no one confronted me on the streets. I was actually quite delighted to receive quite a few smiles and waves from many young people we encountered.
The Sea Shepherd crew has spoken to hundreds of young people over the last month and the conversations have been very encouraging. It is clear that the slaughter is not a tradition embraced by the majority of younger people. It is not an image that many Faeroese wish to be associated with.
It was disappointing to learn that a new documentary film about Luna the orphan orca from British Columbia called The Whale premiered here in the Faeroe Islands, at the Nordic House this past weekend. I have no problem with the actual premiere taking place in the Faeroes to further awareness for whaling but I found it very strange that the premiere was used by at least one of the film’s sponsors as a public forum to denounce Sea Shepherd’s efforts to defend whales in the Faeroe Islands.
The Faeroese published a book called 2 Minutes. In the preface photographer Regin W. Dalsgaard wrote:
“Instantly, I grabbed by photo gear, got into the car and hurried to the beach. For the first time I noticed the trance state of mind of the whale killers. They were out of reach and led my thoughts to a good vampire movie with the vampires ready to taste blood. Through my lens I realized that the trance was a deep-rooted preparation, a sort of pre-war meditation.”
This is not the kind of image that most people would want to reflect their national identity.The Faeroes are a beautiful fairyland group of islands that look like they could be the setting for Middle Earth in Lord of the Rings. The verdant mountains with cascading waterfalls are almost otherworldly. The stone formations and towering cliffs of the northern coast are incredibly impressive. And amidst this splendiferous natural setting lies a community of some 47,000 people enjoying the highest standard of living in Europe.
There is only one thing wrong, only one blemish on this almost perfect society and that is this gross obscenity they call Grindadráp. It simply has no place in the 21st Century, no place in a civilized world. It is offensive to people worldwide. It is cruel, unnecessary, ecologically destructive, and obscene.
I have been opposing this slaughter since 1983; this is the sixth Sea Shepherd campaign using our ships during this period of time. During which, I have seen a growing awareness and a growing resistance to the grind from the Faeroese people.
I am confident that this atrocity can be ended and hopeful that it will be sooner rather than later.
Our efforts this season have proven worthwhile. Not a single whale has been killed this summer under the presence of our vessels. With any luck, the television project Animal Planet is working on will also bring this despicable mass slaughter to the attention of the world in the same way that The Cove brought attention to the slaughter of dolphins in Taiji, Japan.
This last weekend, I walked along one of the killing beaches with some members of my crew. Whereas on many beaches, you can find seashells, in the Faeroes, it is the skulls and bones of pilot whales and dolphins that litter the beach. The skulls poking out from the gravel and sand invoked the killing fields and in my minds eye I could see the blood stained waters and I could hear the screams of the whales as the knives ripped and sliced into their defenseless bodies.
Standing on that haunted beach I was thankful for the dedication of my valiant hardworking crew. Because of them, these beaches have been silent this summer, because of them, the bays have not run red with the hottest of blood, and because of them, this has been a summer of hope for the whales and for those who oppose this wanton murder of these gentle, intelligent and magnificent creatures.