Closed petition Suspend trade agreement with Faroe Islands until all whale & dolphin hunts end

In 2019 UK Government finalised a free trade agreement (FTA) with Faroe Islands which allows for £100 million of exports of wild caught and farmed fish to Britain per annum (20% of the Faroe Islands global trade). This FTA should be suspended until all whale & dolphin hunts on Faroe Islands end

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The Free Trade Agreement with the Faroe Islands gives the UK Government significant leverage when it comes to ending the mass slaughter of pilot whales and dolphins on the Faroe Islands which causes huge anger and revulsion around the world. If the UK is to be considered a world leader in the protection of marine mammals it must use this leverage now

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Parliament debated this topic

This topic was debated on 11 July 2022

Watch the petition 'Suspend trade agreement with Faroe Islands until all whale & dolphin hunts end' being debated

Government responded

This response was given on 26 October 2021

The UK strongly opposes the hunting of cetaceans and is committed to upholding high animal welfare standards in its trade relationships. We continue to urge the Faroe Islands to stop cetacean hunts.

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The UK plays a leading role in championing the conservation and welfare of all cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) and is an active member of the International Whaling Commission (IWC). We strongly believe that the hunting of cetaceans is unacceptably cruel, and that responsible tourism is the only truly sustainable interaction with these animals.

Lord Goldsmith has written to Jacob Vestergaard, the Faroese Minister for Fisheries, to express the UK’s opposition to the killing of cetaceans in the Faroe Islands, with particular reference to the hunt of 1,428 Atlantic white-sided dolphins that took place on the 12th September. UK officials have also raised concerns through diplomatic channels including through the IWC.

The UK welcomes the Faroese Prime Minister’s announcement that his government will start an evaluation of regulations on the catching of Atlantic white-sided dolphins and review closely the part these hunts play in Faroese society. UK Ministers will continue to engage with the Faroese Government throughout this evaluation process.

By having strong diplomatic and economic relationships with partners, we are able to have open discussions on a range of issues. The UK will continue advocating at every appropriate opportunity, included those provided by our Trade Agreement, for the end of cetacean hunts in the Faroe Islands.

Department for International Trade

Other parliamentary business

Issues affecting marine mammals to be investigated by MPs

The MPs on the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee have launched an inquiry into issues affecting marine mammals such as whales, dolphins and porpoises. The investigation by the Committee will cover marine mammals in UK waters and worldwide.

Find out more about the Committee's inquiry:

The Committee will be considering the following questions:

  • What is the status of marine mammal populations?
  • How, and for what purpose, are marine mammals being killed?;
  • Beyond whaling, what human behaviours are affecting whale populations and how?;
  • How effective are the global protections of marine mammals?;
  • How can the UK better protect marine mammals?; and
  • What role can the UK Government play to protect and promote the conservation of marine mammals internationally?

Why has the Committee launched this inquiry?

Whales, dolphins and porpoises are a group of marine mammals collectively known as cetaceans. During the 19th and 20th centuries many cetacean populations collapsed due to over-hunting.

A moratorium on the commercial hunting of whales was introduced in 1986 by the International Whaling Commission. The recovery from near extinction of some whale populations, such as humpback whales, is considered a major conservation success story. However, some other populations, such as North Atlantic Right Whales remain critically endangered.

Despite the moratorium some counties continue to hunt whales. There are also several human-made hazards, beyond whaling, that threaten marine mammal populations. These include ocean noise, bycatch (where mammals are inadvertently caught by fishers), ship collision, pollution and climate change. There have also been reports that the number of ‘strandings’ (on land) is on the rise. Other marine mammal populations such as seals, manatees and dugongs are also thought to be affected by these human-made hazards.

The aim of the Committee's inquiry is to better to understand the role that Britain can play in protecting marine mammals in UK waters and worldwide.

Keep up to date on the Committee's inquiry

Updates on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee's inquiry into marine mammals, including upcoming evidence sessions, will be published here:

You can also follow the committee on Twitter for updates on its work:

What is the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee?

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee is a cross-party group of MPs that look into the work of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Find out more about the committee on its website:

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee is a select committee. Find out how select committees work:

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