On March 10 the Minister of Fisheries tabled a proposal for amendments to the Faroese whaling law (Grindalógin), which includes a modification of the requirement to report a sighting of whales.
The purpose of Faroese whaling legislation is to ensure the safe and efficient conduct of whale drives for food in the Faroe Islands.
The legislation contains a requirement to report the sighting of a school of whales. This requirement for citizens to share the discovery of a school of whales is a part of the centuries old tradition of driving and killing whales for food that come close to the shores of the Faroe Islands. The aim is to ensure that whales are not driven or beached without the express permission of the responsible authorities and according to the regulations, and to make sure that the best use is made of this valuable natural resource. Disrupting and obstructing a whale drive can be dangerous and can put people and property at risk.
The penalty for breaching the reporting requirements was made more severe when the whaling law was last amended in 2015. However, not a single case has been raised for a breach of the reporting requirement in modern times nor as a result of the 2015 amendments.
The 2016 amendment has clarified that a breach of the obligation to notify the authorities if pilot whales are sighted is only punishable if other provisions of the whaling law are also breached. As a result, the whaling law only provides for penalties if, for example, a person or group of people initiate a whale drive without permission from the authorities, or if a whale drive is disturbed, disrupted or if harm is caused to people, whales or property during an authorized whale drive.
As such, the whaling law does not apply to tourists, cruise ships or anyone else who is not actively participating in a whale drive.
(Amendment was passed by the Faroese Parliament Løgtingið on April 26.)
More information on whaling in the Faroe Islands is available at: www.whaling.fo