Action against the killing of pilot whales in Faroe Islands
Every year the North Atlantic turns into a red sea as Faroese carry on the ‘grindadráp’, a cruel tradition which involves driving cetaceans into bays before severing their spinal cords with knives, resulting in a slow and extremely painful death.
At EU level, the capture or killing of cetaceans is prohibited under Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora. The European Commission and European Parliament have already expressed deepest concerns over the issue, however, the Faroe Islands, although under sovereignty of Denmark, is not an EU territory so EU legislation does not apply there.
At international level, while Denmark is a member of both the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention), the Faroe Islands has been excluded from the scope of application of both conventions. In addition, whales are protected by the International Whaling Commission (IWC), unfortunately, the hunting of pilot whales is not regulated by the IWC, as to date there is no agreement about the IWC’s competence for small cetaceans.
So, what can we done to address the issue, despite a lack of legal basis?
In addition to a continued pressure at a policy level and by raising awareness and mobilizing public support, our French member organisation Fondation Brigitte Bardot in collaboration with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society have entered into direct confrontation with hunters and try to save as many pilot whales at possible.