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Parliamentary question - E-3779/2009(ASW)Parliamentary question

Joint answer given by Mr Dimas on behalf of the Commission
Written questions : E-3779/09 , E-3900/09


The Commission is very committed to the protection of all cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) and would like to recall that within the EU, the capture or killing of cetaceans is prohibited under Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora[1], which includes obligations arising from the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, also known as the Bern Convention. The sale or exchange of cetaceans is also prohibited by EU Member States according to the same Directive. In addition, the introduction of cetaceans into the Community for primarily commercial purpose is banned, pursuant to Council Regulation 338/97/EC on the protection of species of wild fauna and flora by regulating trade therein[2], which implements the provisions of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in the EU.

However, the pilot whale hunt mentioned is conducted in the Faroe Islands, which is indeed not part of the EU, so EU legislation and policy do not apply there. Moreover, while Denmark is a member of the Bern Convention, in its instrument of ratification it made a declaration stating that the Convention does not apply to Greenland and the Faroe Islands. Accordingly, the Commission has unfortunately limited possibilities to intervene directly in this case. The Commission will, however, continue to take advantage of all available opportunities to raise this sensitive issue with the relevant authorities.

At international level, whales are protected by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) which is an international organisation for the conservation and management of whales. Unfortunately, however, the hunting of pilot whales is not regulated by the IWC, as to date there is no agreement about the IWC's competence for small cetaceans. In the context of the ongoing debate about the future of the IWC the Commission does hope, however, that the EU together with other parties to the IWC will be able to also address the issue of small cetaceans and, in the same vein, also look into the animal welfare aspects of the killing of those species.