Frauke and Ronny are a couple from Belgium, that also wanted a say about the organisation Sea Shepherd. Nordportal had an interview with them and these are some of the questions we asked them ...
Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves ..?
We are Frauke and Ronny, we're from Belgium. Ronny was already a volunteer with SS two years when I met him. It was two years ago during a stall of SS. Ronny and I were on the road for SS a lot and we got to know each other better. We started to have a relation last year. We took the decision to go to the Faroe Islands, our first real campaign with SS. I was just 1 year with SS, Ronny was 3 years with SS. Ronny is 51 years old and I am 32 years old, so quite of an age difference. We were always interested in nature and wild life from when we were just little children. But we discovered that there is a wrong way to protect nature, but also a wrong conception of protecting nature ...
Can you tell us a little about - how you see faroese people - before you came to Faroe Islands - and after ..?
It was because of the lies of SS that we were very nervous during our trip to the Faroe Islands. Before we came to the Faroe Islands, we believed that Faroe people were aggressive towards members of SS. We felt afraid for what was coming. A few weeks before we'd leave, we received some e-mails from Scott West and Rosie Kunneke who were responsible for Grindstop 2014. As team leaders of the Sandoy Island, we received the "daily report". Every team leader had to write a daily report every evening to Rosie who made an overview of all the daily reports of each team and she sent it to Paul Watson and other very important persons within SS. That's how we received the story about a man who broke in the SS house on the Sandoy Island, the one we had to go to ... So, our thoughts about Faroe people were not that positive. They even forced us to cancel our hotel room we booked, because it was to dangerous for SS volunteers to stay in a hotel. But during the trip, we noticed that SS exaggerated it. We saw nothing of aggressive Faroe people. Once we got there, we soon learned that they told lies and made things worse in there advantage. What we know now is that Faroe people are very kind and very warm people. We talked with some local people, even a very friendly fisherman who asked us if we ever tasted some whale meat. We were friendly (our stupid clothes weren't) and those local people were friendly too. These are still very nice memories, it still makes us feel good when we look back at this! We believe now that we can learn very much from these beautiful people and their beautiful culture. The Islands with the Faroe people are very peaceful, very nice to learn more about this.
And how come you joined Sea Shepherd in the first place ..?
Like most of the people we joined SS by watching "Whale Wars". I always thought that it kind of looked aggressive what they did, but I still was too blinded by my ideals to admit it. When I was a little child, I always was fascinated about dolphins and whales. When I saw these images, I was convinced that those animals had to be protected. But the campaign last year learned us a lot more, we have learned from what we heard from local people and from what we have read that there is a lot of research into pilot whales. And now we're looking at these hunts very differently, with much more understanding and respect.
What are the BIGGEST Sea Shepherd lies ..?
Here in Belgium they say that whales don't eat fish. During an interview with somebody of the core team of SS Belgium, he or she couldn't discribe a pilot whale. They claim that they act according to the law, but they constantly ask their volunteers if they are prepared to brake the law to protect the whales ... They claim that only the captains get payed, but that is a very big lie. Every director from different countries all over the world, get payed. Everybody who does something for the core team or within the core team get payed.
Are people from SS vegan ..?
While we were in the Faroe Islands, there were a only a few volunteers who were vegans. But Ronny cooked every day with canned food we brought with us from Belgium. Canned food is just not realy vegan, is it? And they ate pasta as well. Pasta is made with eggs in it, so no not realy vegan. There are a lot of volunteers who eat meat and fish. There was even a man who ate canned tuna behind our backs, we found the empty cans in the trash can. When you join a campaign, you must sign a contract and you get a form that says you have to eat vegan ... But if there are not enough volunteers at that moment, the rules are less important. We believe SS is a hypocrite organisation when it comes to veganism.
What do you think of Paul Watson ?!?
During our time with SS in Belgium, but also during these 6 weeks in the Faroe Islands for the campaign "Grindstop 2014" we learned a lot about how SS works. Paul Watson and other people of SS claim that they are a movement and that there are no leaders within SS. Paul Watson even dares to say that Rosie Kunneke only communicates and that she doesn't give orders. This is not true, She phoned us to say that we had to get up realy early in the morning. If we saw dolphins or whales, we had to phone her. She came over once in the week to give us some SS money to pay the fuel of the SS cars, a lot of prepaid carts and different sorts of costs. During her visit, she inspected the house to see if everything was nice and clean. She also inspected the bedrooms ... SS is an organization. All those directors who are saying how things are done and they don't want to hear the opinion of their volunteers. We believe that Paul Watson distorts the truth to get more money, SS spread lies to get people right where they want them. We also don't believe he is a vegan. Was that huge and impressive wedding cake realy vegan? Maybe people should ask him that ...
What should people know about Sea Shepherd before they join them ..?
After everything we have been through, we can only warn people for this ugly and dangerous organization. SS is only interested in collecting money, the organization is very unclear about how much money they collected. As a member and a loyal volunteer, you have all rights to know how much money they collect each year. Here in Belgium you won't get an overview of the collected money. No, they name some amounts and when you ask more details the only answer they give you is a bite. Once you are a member of SS, you won't get to hear the whole truth. There is something as a core team, only those 'special' members will hear some dirty secrets. You also have to be aware of the fact that your opinion doesn't count, don't try to do something different. They don't want to many volunteers who thinks with them, no they need people who do what they asked them to do. SS is also an organization that asks his volunteers to brake the law, to end up in prison just to get in the media. During the campaign last year, we noticed that some local retailers thought that volunteers from SS went to the shop to buy some beer in the first place. They have very strict rules when it comes to keep everything within the organisation secret, you have to sign different sorts of contracts. But when it comes to food and drink, the rules are much less strict ... If you join a SS campaign, you also have to sign a contract that says that you can't post the pictures you took on you Facebook profile, that you are not allowed to use your own pictures to do an interview with some local newspaper without their permission. Every picture you take belongs to SS. When you join a SS campaign, you need to wear their clothes with their logos. This is not that crazy, but you have to buy everything yourself and it's not cheap.
Is there any way Faroe Islands can win this fight, so people around the world can know the truth ..?
SS is a very violent organization who doesn't want their volunteers talking with some local Faroese people, because then they could find out that Faroese people are not that violent towards them and they could find out the truth about the whaling. What can you do against the lies of SS? Maybe doing what SS does on these Islands can do something about it. SS film everything, why can't Faroese people make their own films of these slaughters? Why can't Faroese people film it if they release a pod of whales back into the ocean for any kind of reason? Recently we saw a short video of a young man who tried to talk with some SS people, they weren't friendly at all. Faroese people need that kind of information, just bring SS down in a way they do it themselves. SS is aggressive, do not fall into that trap. You can warn people for SS, but try to do it peacefuly. Show people worldwide that you're not aggressive by making you own films.
Do you think faroese people need to ban Sea Shepherd or at least not let their boats near Faroe Islands again ..?
When SS acts too aggressive with their ships towards Faroe people in the Ocean, maybe Faroe people should ban these SS boats near the Islands. The fact that other countries are supporting Faroe government, can be very helpfull to open the eyes of other people worldwide. They should try to get more support from other countries, even if they are not from the area ...
You want to come to Faroe Islands next year - why is that ..?
We'll never forget that lovely journey we had last year. To say something good about SS, we're glad that they took us to the Faroe Islands! During our time in the Faroe Islands, Ronny asked me to marry him. It was such a magic moment, we can't forget. All these beautiful people we talked to, we want more. We want to visit more musea, we want to have conversations with more people. The nature, the people, the culture has touched us forever. We just want to go back, because for us this is like a magic place. It's like paradise on this planet! We're done with pointing fingers to other people, certainly not to people who can learn us so much in so many ways. We deeply respect the Faroese culture, we understand the whale hunt much more and we have learned that all animals there have a much better life then we can ever give our animals overhere ... We just can't get enough from these magnifficent Islands with its magnifficent inhabitants. We truly hope that SS will understand that they need to leave, that they have made a big mistake like all other mistakes they made ...
I want to thank Frauke and Ronny for this interview and wish them the very best in the future. I hope to see next year in the Faroe Islands. This article will surely help - when we talk about Sea Shepherd around the world.
And if you want to know more about whaling, go to: www.whaling.fo and more about our beautiful islands - please go to: www.visitfaroeislands.com. And remember: Knowing is half the battle. Be proud of your country and stand up for that you think is right!
Jógvan á Høvdanum (junior) 30.09.2015