Falklands’ penguins at risk from Brexit and an end to EU conservation funding

STANLEY – The Falkland Islands have warned that a million penguins are at risk from a funding black hole caused by Britain’s exit from the European Union.

The Islands rely on European conservation projects to care and protect the penguin colonies, rookeries, in its shores. But with the U.K. fast approaching Brexit Day in March 2019, Falklands’ lawmaker Teslyn Barkman has urged clarity on the future of Islands’ flippered friends.

In an interview with The Telegraph, MLA Barkman said the British government must adopt a “no penguins left behind” strategy to protect the Islands’ wildlife. Thanks to the Falkland Islands, Britain is responsible for more penguins than any other single nation.

By leaving the EU, the overseas territory will lose access to 1 million Euros in potential environmental grants from the bloc’s Best program and another 5 million Euros from its Life fund.

The money is used to preserve stocks, monitor penguin populations and treat penguins covered with oil by passing ships. MLA Barkman said losing access to the funds would significantly affect the work of the nongovernmental organizations that conduct “critical research and conservation work in the Falklands.”

MLA Barkman added that she had “genuine concerns” that replacement conservation funding promised by U.K. Environment Secretary Michael Gove would not cover the financial shortfall. In addition Islanders “are yet to see any firm proposals from the UK on their replacement for Best.”

The status of the Islands as a British Overseas Territory already limits its funding options. Because they belong to the U.K., the Falklands do not qualify for international funds. But because they sit more than 8,000 miles from the mainland, they cannot be considered by British funding projects either. The lack of options makes EU grants even more vital.

With apparently a no-Brexit deal as the March 2019 approaches, Islanders are more at risk from such a scenario than their compatriots on the mainland. According to The Telegraph, in a hard Brexit scenario EU tariffs could cut the fishing and meat industries revenue significantly since Spain and the EU are Falklands main market for its squid and lamb.–MercoPress