Born Free leads delegation to call for Faroe Islands trade sanctions

22nd June 2023


Born Free leads a delegation to meet with Labour Shadow Ministers for Europe and the Environment, calling for trade sanctions against the Faroe Islands to end whale and dolphin hunts.

Chris Packham, Mark Simmonds, Lucey Babey, Dominic Dyer, Megan McCubbin, and Matt Dawson holding 'No More Whaling' signsL-R: Chris Packham, Mark Simmonds, Lucey Babey, Dominic Dyer, Megan McCubbin, Matt Dawson

On Tuesday 20 June Dominic Dyer, Policy Advisor at Born Free, led a delegation of leading naturalists, broadcasters and marine mammal protection experts to meet with the Labour Shadow Ministers for Europe and the Environment (Stephen Doughty MP and Alex Sobel MP) to discuss an incoming Labour Government’s policy on trade relations with the Faroe Islands, in response to the continual mass killing of whales and dolphins on the Islands.

The delegation included the naturalists and broadcasters Chris Packham and Megan McCubbin, Mark Simmons, Director of Science at Ocean Care, and Lucy Babey, Head of Science & Conservation at Orca UK.

In 2022 over 100,000 people signed a Government Petition set up by Dominic Dyer calling for trade sanctions against the Faroe Islands to increase the economic pressure to end the whale and dolphin hunts. This lead to a debate in Parliament in July 2022, but the Conservative Government has to date refused to make any changes to the current trade agreement.

To the end of 2022, exports from the Faroe Islands to the UK reached a staggering £2.2 billion mostly in fishery products (a 274% increase on 2021). Exports to the Faroe Islands from the UK was only £21 million in the same period.

During the meeting both Shadow Ministers were updated on the hundreds of pilot whales which have been killed in recent weeks in hunts on the Faroe Islands and the huge cruelty involved in the slaughter of these highly intelligent marine mammals.

They both accepted the high level of public concern at home and abroad on the whale and dolphin hunts and expressed their personal revulsion on the cruelty involved in the killing of these marine mammals.

They also agreed the trade deal for the Faroes was extremely lopsided with huge trade access for fishery products to the UK and little in return for UK exports to the Islands.

Going forward they agreed to look at the legal issues surrounding any future changes to the current post Brexit trade agreement with the Faroe Islands and held open the door for more dialogue around the Labour Parties commitment to bring a human rights and animal welfare aspect to all existing and new trade deals.

This could also involve the major food retailers who purchase the vast majority of the fishery products exported from the Faroe Islands.

Stephan Doughty MP also agreed to raise concerns on the whale and dolphin hunts with Faroe Island Government representatives and to explore the issue further within the All Party Parliamentary Group promoting closer relations with the Islands.

Reflecting on the meeting Dominic Dyer said: “Britain is now the largest single trading partner with the Faroe Islands and we are enriching this Island nation with a population less than 50,000 at an unprecedented rate. Many of the individuals who are participating in the whale and dolphin hunts work in the wild or fish farming industry and are probably using the increased income generated from trade with UK to fund the costly and complex killing operations, which are in contravention of UK Government policy on whaling.

“An incoming Labour Government must be willing to threaten the suspension of this hugely valuable trade agreement to bring this barbaric cruel madness to an end.”