Faroe Island sanctions to be discussed in Westminster hall & your action is needed!

Conservation news


A debate about the possibility of trade sanctions against the Faroes is coming next week and we need ORCA supporters to take action to help make a difference!

Next week on Monday the 11th of July, John Nicolson MP will lead a Westminster Hall debate about the possibility of introducing trade sanctions against The Faroe Islands until whale and dolphin hunts in their waters cease.

The whale and dolphin hunts that take place in The Faroe Islands, 200 miles North West of Scotland, have been an emotive and controversial topic. Last year over 1400 Atlantic white-sided dolphins were killed in one hunt, the biggest slaughter of dolphins on record, triggering outrage and anger across the globe.

As well as Atlantic white-sided dolphins, pilot whales are a targeted species. The Faroe Islands slaughter just over 1000 pilot whales each year, which the Faroese Government believe is sustainable.

Although the European Union has a ban on the killing of whales and dolphins by its Member States under an EU Council Directive, this does not apply to The Faroe Islands as it is a self-governing country in the Kingdom of Denmark. The Faroe Islands is not a member of the International Whaling Commission, so the hunts can be legally licenced by the Faroese Government, and have continued for years.

In September 2021, Born Free started a Government Petition calling for a suspension of the Free Trade Agreement with the Faroe Islands until all the whale and dolphin hunts end.

Over the following six months, tens of thousands of people signed and shared the Petition and protest marches against the killing of cetaceans in the Faroes were held in London.

On Monday 15th of March 2022 the petition exceeded 100,000 signatures and is now scheduled for a debate in Parliament on the 11th July at 6pm.

The UK is currently the largest single export market for farmed and wild-caught fish products from The Faroe Islands. This provides the UK with significant leverage in terms of using trade relations to bring an end to the whale and dolphin hunts on the Islands. The rate at which The Faroe Islands kills huge numbers of whales and dolphins is in direct contravention of UK Government policy to protect marine mammals and it is hoped that MPs will push for sanctions on Monday as this could finally put a stop to the hunts.

You can help by asking your MP to attend the meeting and speak up to encourage sanctions. Visit the BornFree website to find out more about the campaign and how you can support it.

More and more research on the ecosystem services that marine mammals provide has concluded that we need more whales and dolphins in our ocean, not less. Marine mammal movements in the ocean account for a remarkable one-third of all ocean mixing, transporting vital nutrients around the world and oxygenating the ocean. Whale and dolphin faeces stimulate the growth of phytoplankton, the ocean plants that produce most of the world’s oxygen, and enhancing and encouraging a healthy population of cetacean species would tackle climate change head-on. We have also seen how previous whaling nations have switched their focus to whale watching, and generate far more income and employment through whale tourism than whaling ever did.

This discussion in parliament on Monday could be a big step towards protecting marine mammals. With so many other threats to contend with such as overfishing, ship strike, and pollution, we need to remove the unnecessary threat of whale and dolphin hunts, and proposing trade sanctions against the Faroe Islands, on top of the mounting pressure from other nations and organisations, might help achieve this.