Letter to Faroes to condemn ‘slaughter’ of sea mammals

The Grindadrap is a tradition on the Faroe Islands which is believed to have been practised since the 9th century

THE Chief Minister will write to the government of the Faroe Islands to condemn the annual practice of slaughtering of thousands of sea mammals, following a States Assembly debate.

Deputy Lyndon Farnham asked Members to officially denounce what he described as ‘the mass slaughter of whales and dolphins and the unacceptable and brutal method of killing’.

The Grindadrap is a Faroese tradition which may date back as far as the 9th century. It occurs opportunistically in the spring and summer periods, and sees whales, dolphins and porpoises driven into shallow bays where they are beached, killed and butchered. The meat is subsequently distributed to the Faroese community.

Deputy Farnham’s proposition also requested that the Chief Minister ‘communicate the view of the States Assembly to the United Kingdom Government and the Government of the Faroe Islands’.

His proposal was approved by 22 votes to 12 with 12 abstentions. The Chief Minister abstained from voting but said she would carry out the Assembly’s wish.

Deputy Farnham first raised the issue in 2021, shortly after a 1,428-strong pod of white-sided dolphins were butchered at Skálabotnur beach.

That year, he wrote to the International Island Games Association asking that the Faroe Islands’ participation in the games be reconsidered.

Among those who challenged the proposition was External Relations Minister Philip Ozouf, who stressed Jersey’s ‘strong and positive relationship with the Faroe Islands’.

While he agreed that the practice was ‘contrary to the values that are internationally accepted’, he said that ‘where possible, the best way to promote progress is through positive, constructive engagement with partners, not lecturing’

He voted against the proposition, worrying that it would set an ‘interesting and potentially problematic precedent’.

Likewise, Deputy Sir Philip Bailhache – a former External Relations Minister – argued that condemning the Faroese practice was not ‘an appropriate thing for a legislative assembly like the States of Jersey to do’.

He stated that while he personally disapproved of ‘lots of things that happen in foreign countries’, such as bull-fighting in Spain, he said that if the Assembly were to pass propositions opposing policies and practices elsewhere that individual Members disagreed with, then ‘we will spend our entire time passing resolutions which are probably going to be, at the end of the day, otiose’.

However, in his summing up, Deputy Farnham said: ‘What example do we set to the rest of the world if we do nothing? If we say nothing?

‘What example are we setting?

‘Not a very good one as far as I am concerned… a vote against this is a vote to allow the Grindadrap to continue.’

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