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Dead sperm whale in The Wash, East Anglia, England. © CSIP-ZSL.

What have dead whales ever done for us?

When dead whales wash up on dry land they provide a vital food source for...
Risso's dolphin © Andy Knight

We’re getting to know Risso’s dolphins in Scotland so we can protect them

Citizen scientists in Scotland are helping us better understand Risso's dolphins by sending us their...
Pilot whales pooing © Christopher Swann

Talking crap and carcasses to protect our planet

We know we need to save the whale to save the world because they are...
Fin whales are targeted by Icelandic whalers

Speaking truth to power – my week giving whales a voice

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting is where governments come together to make decisions about whaling...

Why do whales and dolphins strand on beaches?

People often ask me 'why' whales and dolphins do one thing or another.  I'm a...
A spinner dolphin leaping © Andrew Sutton/Eco2

Head in a spin – my incredible spinner dolphin encounter

Sri Lanka is home to at least 30 species of whales and dolphins, from the...
Sperm whale (physeter macrocephalus) Gulf of California. The tail of a sperm whale.

To protect whales, we must stop ignoring the high seas

Almost two-thirds of the ocean, or 95% of the habitable space on Earth, are sloshing...
WDC team at UN Ocean conference

Give the ocean a chance – our message from the UN Ocean Conference

I'm looking out over the River Tejo in Lisbon, Portugal, reflecting on the astounding resilience...

WDC Boycotts Federally Mandated Harbor Porpoise Meeting

WDC was among the “no-shows” at last week’s Harbor Porpoise Take Reduction Team meeting in Providence, Rhode Island. Some conservationists as well as the entire delegation of experts from the science and academic community chose to “boycott” this meeting.  The issue? A decision made by John Bullard, the Northeast Regional Administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service. Bullard’s fall decision allowed fishing in an area that his Agency’s regulations had mandated for a two month closure despite evidence of the increasing number of harbor porpoises killed as a result of the fishing industry’s low compliance with fishing federal regulations designed to reduce mortality.  Affordable acoustic “pingers” have been shown to reduce mortality of porpoises by up to 90% and they are required for use in New England during much of the time when porpoises are in the area in greatest numbers.  There has been a federal mandate to use these “pingers” since 1998.  But compliance with the mandate has recently slipped badly. 

The Harbor Porpoise Take Reduction Team is a federally appointed group of scientists, conservationists, fishermen, and state and federal agency representatives mandated by the Marine Mammal Protection Act to develop plans to reduce marine mammal bycatch in specific fisheries when the operation of the fishery results in high levels of mortality.  In 2008, the Team, including members of the fisheries, agreed that if compliance with fishing regulations mandating pinger use was not adequate, mandatory “consequence” closures would be put in place for short periods in specific locations to protect the porpoises.  As a result of increasing numbers of harbor porpoises being killed in the past several years, and only 41% of the fishery complying with regulations, fishermen were notified in March of this year that areas off Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine would be closed to fishing in October and November, a time when harbor porpoise deaths were so high that even if no additional mortality occurred, the numbers were still too high to not harm the population.