THE UK should suspend its free trade agreement with the Faroe Islands until it stops its whale and dolphin hunts, a leading animal welfare campaigner has demanded.
Campaigner Dominic Dyer has launched a petition calling for the Government to put its trade deal with the North Atlantic archipelago on hold following an outcry over the killing of 1,428 white-sided dolphins earlier this month.
The slaughter was part of the tradition known as the grind which has been practised by the islands for hundreds of years.
Mr Dyer, policy adviser at the animal charity Born Free, urged the Government to use its free trade agreement with the Faroe Islands as “leverage” to bring an end to the whale and dolphin hunts.
He told the Express: “We can all say how terrible it is but it will not stop.
“The only way this will stop is if the trade issue becomes crucially important to the Faroe Islands’ economy.”
Imports to the UK from the Faroe Islands – mainly seafood – were worth £253 million in 2019, according to figures from Defra, while British exports totalled £41 million.
Mr Dyer, who has protested against whaling with Boris Johnson’s wife Carrie and father Stanley in the past, warned the Government cannot “turn a blind eye” if the UK is to be a world leader in the protection of marine mammals.
His petition, which has been backed by TV presenter Chris Packham, has been signed by more than 25,000 people since it was launched on Tuesday.
It is due to receive a response from the Government as it has passed 10,000 signatures and it will be considered for debate in Parliament if it reaches 100,000 names.
The grind sees pods of whales and dolphins driven by boats into shallow waters to be killed.
The Faroese government says the tradition is an important part of its food culture.
But a record number of dolphins were slaughtered on September 12 sparking a backlash.
The outcry prompted the Faroe Islands to announce it would review the dolphin hunts.
Prime Minister of the Faroe Islands, Bárður á Steig Nielsen, said: “We take this matter very seriously.
“Although these hunts are considered sustainable, we will be looking closely at the dolphin hunts, and what part they should play in Faroese society.”
On Wednesday, 53 pilot whales were slaughtered in the Faroe Islands in a fresh bloodbath less than two weeks after the dolphin massacre.
Environment minister Zac Goldsmith described the killing of almost 1,500 dolphins earlier this month as “one of the most sickening spectacles I’ve ever seen”.
In a Twitter post, he added: “It shames our species.”
A Defra spokesperson said: “The UK is strongly opposed to the hunting of any cetaceans and continues to call on all whaling nations, including the Faroe islands, at every appropriate opportunity to cease their whaling activities in favour of well-managed, responsible tourism, such as whale-watching.
“We recognise there is a long tradition in the Faroe Islands of killing pilot whales and dolphins for meat and other products and we wish to continue our frank conversations relating to cetacean conservation, to encourage them to stop these hunts.”
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