COPENHAGEN, June 19 (Xinhua) -- Animal rights activists are flocking to the Faroe Islands this week to begin a five-month protest against the annual killings of some 1,000 pilot whales in October, local media reported on Thursday.
About 500 activists from the Sea Shepard Conservation Group (SSCG) will patrol land and sea from mid-June until the end of October, when the traditional event occurs, according to the weekly newspaper The Copenhagen Post.
"Danish intelligence services have been monitoring the situation, so we are confident we can stop [the clashes] at sea and on land," Peter Thaysen, a police inspector on the islands, was quoted as saying.
Thaysen said they had known about the action plan for a long time.
The hunting of pilot whales is a cultural and historical tradition known as "the grind" in the Faroe Islands, which lack natural resources. Since the 1700s, the islanders have surrounded, herded and killed approximated 1,000 pilot whales every year, the paper said.
Whale meat accounts for more than 30 percent of the Islands' food sources.
The meat is divided up and handed out to participants. The event is regulated by the authorities, open to everyone and supposedly non-commercial, even though much of the meat is sold in supermarkets.
This tradition, considered as cruel by some, has been attracting worldwide outcry for decades. The SSCG first took up the cause of the slaughtered pilot whales in 1985 and has been actively campaigning ever since.
The group argues that the grind is a "mass slaughter" and not necessary for sustenance.
The island authorities ruled in 2008 that eating pilot whales is ill-advised due to their high levels of mercury.