The government has refused to suspend a free trade agreement with the Faroe Islands on the massacres of whales and dolphins, in defiance of calls from environmentalists.
Hunters sparked widespread outrage last week when they wiped out a supergroup of 1,428 dolphins – considered the worst mammalian bloodbath in the history of the islands.
Barely 10 days later, they responded to the global revulsion by slaughtering 53 pilot whales a few kilometers from the first massacre.
Wildlife activist Dominic Dyer called on ministers to suspend the £ 580million post-Brexit deal the government struck with the Faroe Islands in 2019 “until the massacre is over for good” .
More than 21,000 people signed a petition on the government website supporting the advocacy in three days.
The government said The independent he is “extremely concerned about the sustainability and the welfare implications of the animals involved in these hunts” but would not reconsider the trade agreement.
Instead, he says he “will continue to engage in a frank and respectful dialogue” with the government of the Faroe Islands.
Zac Goldsmith, Minister of Animal Welfare, tweeted about the dolphin killings: “This is one of the most disgusting sights I have ever seen. It shames our species.
Known as the ‘Grindadrap’, the annual hunt involves collecting whales and dolphins on a beach where they are stabbed to death as their blood turns the sea red.
The practice has been called “barbaric”, “sick” and “sadistic”, but those who defend it say it is a tradition that is unlikely to drive the animals to extinction.
Mr Dyer said: “We are currently giving the Faroe Islands a preferential trade deal worth over £ 500million a year – it is time for the sanctions to end this barbarism.”
The deal accounts for over 25% of the Faroe Islands’ global trade, he said, with exports from the islands – mostly fish sold in UK supermarkets – worth £ 582million a year.
UK exports to the islands amount to £ 34million, said Mr Dyer, whose petition reads: ‘If the UK is to be seen as a world leader in the protection of marine mammals, he needs to use that leverage now. “
Asked by The independent whether it would agree to suspend or review the deal, the International Trade Department has said it has no intention of doing so.
A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said: ‘The UK is strongly opposed to the whaling of all cetaceans and continues to call on all whaling nations, including the Faroe Islands, at each appropriate opportunity to cease operations. whaling activities for the benefit of well-managed and responsible tourism, such as whale watching.
“We recognize that there is a long tradition in the Faroe Islands of killing pilot whales and dolphins for their meat and other products, and we want to continue our frank conversations on cetacean conservation, to encourage them to stop these hunts. . “
Government policy is to “maintain diplomatic pressure” on the islands to end the hunts and reconnect with the International Whaling Commission.
Boris Johnson’s wife Carrie and father Stanley have previously joined campaigns against whaling outside the Japanese Embassy in London.