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A Call for Expanded Responsibility in EU-Faroe Islands Relations: An Open Letter to the EU Commission President

Updated: Mar 28

EU Commission President Von der Leyen, with the Faroese Prime Minister
EU Commission President Von der Leyen, with the Faroese Prime Minister

Dear President Von der Leyen,

We at #StoptheGrind, a coalition of conservationists and MEPs dedicated to ending the slaughter of pilot whales and dolphins in the Faroe Islands, have followed your recent visit to the Faroe Islands with great interest. We understand that this visit was undertaken with a view to expand existing trade agreements and other economic initiatives with the European Union. While we commend your strides towards deepening the partnership and friendship of the Faroe Islands as part of “the wider European family”, we feel there has been a significant oversight in these discussions – the Faroese practice known as the "grindadráp" or the grind.

In your press conference with the Faroese Prime Minister, we noted your statement that the EU  “share the same values” as the Faroe Islands. However, under the EU’s Habitats Directive, pilot whales are a protected species, meaning  EU members actively strive to protect the same Pilot whales and dolphins which are needlessly slaughtered in these brutal drive hunts when migrating through Faroese waters. 

As mentioned during your visit, the European Union is one of the Faroe Islands’ top trading partners. In 2022, almost 100% of Faroese seafood exports to Europe came in duty-free.  The new agreement under discussion will consider how to continue to improve Faroe access to  EU markets.

 It is not justifiable for the EU to promise preferential market access for Faroese fish exports without addressing the ethical implications of the grind. The EU has a moral obligation to condition trade agreements on the Faroe Islands’ commitment to protecting marine wildlife and biodiversity.

The EU has long been a global leader in environmental protection and animal welfare, enacting laws and regulations that reflect a commitment to sustainability and ethical stewardship. All EU countries, including Denmark, are parties to the UN Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). However, the Faroe Islands continue to insist these agreements don’t apply to them because they’re not part of the EU.

“Any further strengthening of EU and Faroes relations should be based on a roadmap to end the grind. It's immoral to neglect the unnecessary suffering of hundreds of cetaceans and continue business as usual." - Francisco Guerreiro, MEP
"As Vice-President of the Intergroup on Animal Welfare, I urge the European Commission to include and enforce animal welfare standards in all trade relations with the Faroe Islands! The grindadráp, the brutal and unnecessary slaughter of pilot whales and dolphins, is unacceptable and must end immediately!" -Manuela Ripa, MEP
"The EU must finally recognize the grave animal rights and biodiversity concerns regarding the grindadráp in the Faroe Islands and introduce measures to stop this cruel practice. The mass butchering of whales and dolphins clearly conflicts with European values and standards." - Tilly Metz, MEP

In your speech, President Von der Leyen, you address the “higher value-added seafood products”, promising “high standards in terms of sustainability and fisheries management.” However, the #StoptheGrind Coalition believes it’s time to start taking a closer look at the Faroese fishing industry’s claims of sustainability – including their MSC certification – when these very same fishing boats are used to participate in the inhumane drive of Pilot whales and dolphins onto the Faroese beaches for slaughter. 

“The Faroe Islands is no longer an isolated and poor nation depending on such outdated and brutal actions to feed their population. The Faroe Islands are a valued part of the European community, and as this comes with benefits, it also comes with responsibilities. We call on Ursula von der Leyen to request the Faroe Islands to stop their cruel slaughter of cetaceans and commit to the European community's promise to protect the ocean and its inhabitants.” - Valentina Crast, Candidate for the European Parliament and Campaign Lead for Sea Shepherd.

Therefore, we urge you, as President of the European Commission, to consider the inclusion of animal welfare standards and protections in trade agreements and other collaborative conservation initiatives with the Faroe Islands. 

This could serve as a powerful incentive for the Faroe Islands to reassess practices like the grind that needlessly slaughter entire pods of pilot whales and other dolphins – including their pregnant females and juveniles – in the name of tradition. 

Thank you for considering our perspective.


The #StoptheGrind Coalition


Send an email to President Von der Leyen to let her know -- respectfully, of course -- that you'd like the European Union's trade deals with the Faroes to be contingent on their commitment to end the grind, therefore protecting pilot whales and other dolphins from needless slaughter. She can be contacted at:

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1 kommentti

Es una aberracion que aun hoy se legalice y se siga permitiendo, un acto tan cruento en nombre de la alimentacion y la cultura o tradiccion. Hay evidencia cientifica que otro tipo de alimentacion es posible sin maltrato ni dolor hacia otros animales. Es un escandalo que la Humanidad, si asi nos podemos llamar, no denuncie masivamente este acto de barbarie y cobardia. Mas alla de las restricciones economicas que pudieran recibir los ciudadanos de las islas Feroe, o la confirmacion que ese tipo de alimentacion puede afectar su salud, es tiempo de tomar consciencia etica y moral hacia las generaciones actuales y por venir, que el Grindadráp , es una practica que debe erradicarse. Y si se quiere agradece…

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