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New Report Reveals European Consumers Support Economic Boycotts Against Whaling Nations

Updated: Jul 28, 2023

Two thirds of consumers in the UK, Denmark and Germany would be willing to boycott or support economic sanctions against whaling nations. That is the headline finding from a new consumer survey of 6000 participants commissioned by Stop the Grind and Sea Shepherd UK and conducted by OnePoll. The research was intended to explore European views on the Grindadrap (otherwise known as the ‘Grind’) – a long-held Faroese tradition in which hundreds of dolphins and whales are slaughtered for consumption on an annual basis.

  • 74% of Europeans surveyed had no idea that dolphin hunts and commercial whaling are still legal in certain European countries, such as Norway, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands.

  • 69% of Europeans surveyed would support government trade sanctions against these countries, with an additional 62% willing to support consumer boycotts of the product, services, and leisure travel to these countries.

The marine conservation organization Sea Shepherd has been fighting to stop the killing of Pilot Whales and other dolphins in the Faroes since 1983, but to date the country has always invoked its independence from EU laws against killing cetaceans (even though they are dependent on Danish military and police).

On September 12, 2021, a record-setting slaughter of a super-pod of 1492 Atlantic white-sided dolphins – including pregnant females and juveniles – shocked and horrified the international community. As a result, Sea Shepherd UK teamed up with Shared Planet to form Stop the Grind, an international coalition of animal welfare groups, European politicians, and celebrities to raise global awareness and organize political and economic pressure to bring an end to these hunts.

The Faroe Islands are a self-governing part of the Danish Kingdom, with the same modern standard of living as their Scandinavian neighbors thanks to tourism and lucrative salmon exports, two industries that depend on consumers from countries where cetacean hunting is illegal. The Stop the Grind coalition is focusing on this economic dependence on European trade deals and international tourism to pressure the islands to end the grind.

After the international outrage over the dolphin slaughter last September, over 100,000 British citizens signed a petition calling for the UK government to suspend its £5.5 million trade deal with the Faroes until the Grindadrap hunts are ended. Moreover, more than 1.3 million globally signed petitions calling for the hunt to be banned. In January the EU and its Member States who are parties to the International Whaling Commission (IWC), but not including Denmark, issued a statement calling on the Faroese Government to “immediately stop the outdated practice of whale and dolphin hunting”, calling the September massacre “cruel and unnecessary”.

The Faroese Prime Minister Bárður á Steig Nielsen announced that his government would be evaluating regulations around dolphin hunts. Yet, over ten months later, the international community which contributes so greatly to the Faroe Islands’ economy is still waiting for a response.

This year already, 182 pilot whales have been needlessly killed in what is only the beginning of another Grindadrap season. This number does not include unborn calves which are never included by the Faroese in their national 'grind' statistics nor mentioned in their news articles. The killing of these animals has consequences for the survival of the species given the already significant risks they face.

The Stop the Grind Coalition will continue to lobby the UK Parliament, international governing bodies, and European retailers about the unpopularity of the grind hunts with European consumers. Sea Shepherd UK has sent another land-based crew to the islands this year to document the hunts and help bring greater awareness to this issue.

Quotes from the Stop the Grind Coalition

"The UK must cut ties with the mass slaughter of dolphins by ending our outrageous trade agreements with the Faroe Islands. If those in power truly 'oppose the hunting of cetaceans and are committed to upholding high animal welfare standards in its trade relationships' then it's high time we washed the blood from our hands." - Lex Rigby, Viva!

“In Europe, small cetaceans must be better protected and hunting of them must be banned. This is the only way to finally stop the killing of these animals on the Faroe Islands. And this must happen soon, because only recently, once again, numerous pilot whales were cruelly killed during a grindadrap. How many more whale families must be wiped out before measures are finally taken in Europe against the deliberate killing of small cetaceans?” - Silvia Frey, PhD, marine conservation biologist, KYMA sea conservation & research

“Tradition can never justify the killing of sentient non-human beings. The Grind hunts in the Faroe Islands turn the waters red with the blood of hundreds of whales and dolphins each year, with entire families slaughtered. Governments have the support of the public to act and Animal Defenders International urges them to do so before more lives are lost in this senseless slaughter.” - Jan Creamer, President, Animal Defenders International

"It's appalling that the Faroese continue to deliberately kill hundreds of whales each year and with the brutal killing of over 150 long-finned pilot whales in May 2022, Marine Connection supports the call for a permanent ban on the hideously cruel and unnecessary slaughter of these marine mammals in the Faroe Islands.” - Margaux Dodds, Director, Marine Connection

"We are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction, with countless animal and plant species vanishing at an alarming rate. Yet, some of the Faroese locals regularly wipe out entire families and pods of intelligent and highly social marine mammals in a funfair-like bloody killing ritual that includes adults and children from all walks of life. They not only inflict horrible pain on these mammals, they destroy the genetic diversity of the species concerned and put their survival at risk, while also ignoring international agreements like the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals." - Ulrike Kirsch, Deutsche Stiftung Meeresschutz/German Foundation for Marine Conservation

“The people of Faroe Islands are so lucky to have whales and dolphins on their doorstep. They should be cherishing this amazing heritage and protecting it, not kill it!” - Leo’s Animal Planet

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