International law and agreements stress the need for States to cooperate on the management of marine mammals. The Faroes recognise the importance of working through the appropriate international organisations for the conservation, management and study of whales.
NAMMCO – the North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission
The Faroes cooperate internationally through the North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission (NAMMCO) on the conservation of whales and the management of whaling.
NAMMCO is an international body established in 1992 by an Agreement between the Faroes, Greenland, Iceland and Norway for cooperation on research, conservation and management of marine mammals in the North Atlantic. Canada, the Russian Federation and Japan also participate as observers and contribute their expertise to the work of various specialist groups.
The NAMMCO Scientific Committee provides scientific advice on the status of stocks and species of whales and seals across the North Atlantic, including pilot whales. This advice provides the NAMMCO Management Committees on cetaceans and seals & walrusus with a basis for decisions and recommendations on conservation and management measures.
NAMMCO has taken the lead in coordinating the North Atlantic Sightings Surveys (NASS) since 1995, which provide crucial data for monitoring trends in abundance of whales stocks iacross the North Atlantic. In addition, the NAMMCO Committee on Hunting Methods provides a valuable technical forum for dialogue and exchange of information on hunting methods between hunters and veterinary experts from North Atlantic whaling and sealing nations.
The NAMMCO International Observation Scheme ensures international transparency and oversight of national regulations, and international observers appointed by NAMMCO also monitor the pilot whale hunt in the Faroes at regular intervals.
IWC – the International Whaling Commission
Information on research, conservation and management of pilot whales and other cetaceans in the Faroes is provided to the International Whaling Commission through NAMMCO, with which the IWC cooperates. The IWC is not recognised as the competent body to manage small whales, such as pilot whales.
The Faroese Government also exchanges information on a bilateral basis with other governments which wish to be kept updated on whaling activities in the Faroes.
The Bonn Convention
Denmark ratified the Bonn Convention (Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals) in 1983. Since 1990 this membership has also covered the Faroes. The North and Baltic Sea populations of pilot whales are listed under the Bonn Convention on Appendix II. These stocks are covered by a regional agreement under the auspices of the Bonn Convention known as ASCOBANS (Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans in the Baltic and North Seas), to which Denmark is a Party. This agreement does not extend to the Faroe Islands.
Nevertheless, the population of pilot whales in the Northeast Atlantic which is exploited in the Faroe Islands meets all the criteria under the Bonn Convention by which a species is defined as having a "favourable conservation status".