The European Commission Ignores the European Parliament and 250,000+ Members of the Public, Leaving Pilot Whales to be Slaughtered

Tuesday, 12 Sep, 2017

The European Commission has rejected Sea Shepherd's request for infringement proceedings against Denmark without apparently considering any of Sea Shepherd’s legal arguments, allowing the  slaughter to continue unabated. But we aren't giving up without a fight. 

The Danish Navy came to the Faroes in 2015 to seize Sea Shepherd vessels and arrest activists trying to stop the slaughter. Photo Lukas Erichsen / Sea Shepherd.

On May 8, 2017, with the formal support of 27 Members of the European Parliament and over 250,000 members of the public, Sea Shepherd Netherlands officially submitted a request to the European Commission to launch infringement proceedings against Denmark for facilitating the slaughter of pilot whales and other cetaceans in the Faroe Islands.  

Sea Shepherd took this important step in the hopes of ending direct Danish support for the brutal grindadráp, or Grind, in which hundreds of pilot whales are driven onto the beaches of the Faroe Islands using speed boats, then mercilessly slaughtered in the name of “tradition.”

Sea Shepherd’s infringement claim presented evidence proving that Danish officials from the police, navy, and customs have been facilitating and even actively participating in the Grind, causing the death of cetaceans in contravention of the EU Habitats Directive on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora.

The European Commission has now, on September 6th 2017,  given us its answer: there will be no infringement proceeding brought against Denmark – the slaughter can continue unabated. The Commission took this extraordinary step without apparently considering any of Sea Shepherd’s legal arguments or its comprehensive evidentiary submissions.

Sea Shepherd received its answer in a one page letter blindly parroting the Commission’s long- standing position that “the Faroe Islands are outside the European Union” and “not subject to international treaties prohibiting whaling.”  However, these were not Sea Shepherd’s arguments.  Rather, Sea Shepherd provided incontrovertible scientific evidence proving that the same pilot whales traveling through European Union waters are the victims of the Danish supported-grindadráps.  Yet, the Commission (without explanation) ignored this evidence, finding that there is no connection between the slaughter and the European Union – thus invalidating any application of the Habitats Directive.

Sea Shepherd is not done with this fight.  We will make another attempt to convince the Commission to see reason.  If the Commission again fails to properly consider our well-supported position, the next step will be to file a maladministration claim against the Commission with the European Ombudsman.


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