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Minke whale © Ursula Tscherter - ORES

The whale trappers are back with their cruel experiment

Anyone walking past my window might have heard my groan of disbelief at the news...
Boto © Fernando Trujillo

Meet the legendary pink river dolphins

Botos don't look or live like other dolphins. Flamingo-pink all over with super-skinny snouts and...
Risso's dolphin entangled in fishing line and plastic bags - Andrew Sutton

The ocean is awash with plastic – can we ever clean it up?

You've seen pictures of plastic litter accumulating on beaches or marine wildlife swimming through floating...
Fin whale

Is this the beginning of the end for whaling off Iceland?

I'm feeling cautiously optimistic after Iceland's Fisheries Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir wrote that there is little...
Mykines Lighthouse, Faroe Islands

Understanding whale and dolphin hunts in the Faroe Islands – why change is not easy

Most people in my home country of the Faroe Islands would like to see an...

Dolphin scientists look like you and me – citizen science in action

Our amazing volunteers have looked out for dolphins from the shores of Scotland more than...
Atlantic white-sided dolphins

The Faroes dolphin slaughter that sparked an outcry now brings hope

Since the slaughter of at least 1,423 Atlantic white-sided dolphins at Skálafjørður in my home...
Fin whale

From managing commercial slaughter to saving the whale – the International Whaling Commission at 75

Governments come together under the auspices of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to make decisions...
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Minke whale hunts stop in Iceland

Iceland’s commercial hunt of minke whales has ended for this year. The common minke whale is the...
Port River dolphins

New report reveals 100,000 dolphins and small whales hunted every year

When you hear the words ‘dolphin hunts’ it’s likely that you think of Japan or...

End the whale hunts! Icelandic fin whaler isolated as public mood shifts

Here’s a sight I hoped never again to witness. A boat being scrubbed and repainted...

Australian Government to block Japanese whaling proposal

Japanese Government officials have reportedly confirmed that they will propose the resumption of commercial whaling...

Pregnant whales once again a target for Japanese whalers

Figures from Japan's whaling expedition to Antarctica during the 2017/18 austral summer have revealed that...

Did Icelandic whalers really kill a blue whale?

*Warning - this blog contains an image that you may find upsetting* They say a...

Icelandic whalers breach international law and kill iconic, protected whale by mistake

Icelandic whalers out hunting fin whales for the first time in three years appear to...

Doubts remain after Icelandic Marine Institute claims slaughtered whale was a hybrid not a blue

Experts remain sceptical of initial test results issued by the Icelandic Marine Institute, which indicate...

Japan set to resume commercial whaling

Reports from Japan suggest that the government they will formally propose plans to resume commercial...

Norway increases whaling quota despite declining demand

Norway's government has announced an increase in the number of minke whales that can be...

Icelandic fin whale hunting to resume

Iceland’s only fin whaling company, Hvalur hf,  announced today that it will resume fin whaling...

SOS alert for whales off Norway!

I have to admit to bitter disappointment when I arrived in Tromsø, northern Norway, a...

Ross Sea receives long awaited protection

Shout it from the highest mountain in Antarctica: The Ross Sea, at last, has received protection. The nations of CCAMLR (the Commission on the Conservation of Antarctic Living Resources) have finally after years of discussion and negotiation agreed on a 1.55 million sq km core area of the Ross Sea to be protected. Some 1.12 million sq km will receive the highest level of protection. The balance will be in special research zones where some fishing may still be allowed.

As in many areas of the world, access to fishing has been the stumbling block. In the case of the Ross Sea it is the valuable toothfish treasured not only by fishers but by the Ross Sea killer whales and the entire Ross Sea ecosystem. The toothfish and the battle for the Ross Sea were brilliantly captured in the feature film The Last Ocean by Peter Young. WDC helped sponsor and promote this film which introduced the world to the treasures of the Ross Sea and why it needed to be protected.

The Ross Sea Marine Protected Area (MPA) is the culmination of many years work by many individuals and groups, notably Jim Barnes and Claire Christian from the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC) and penguin scientist David Ainley, It is a tribute to what can be accomplished by those who have a great idea and refuse to give up, no matter how long it takes.

WDC also played a role with the publication of Marine Protected Areas for Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises (2004, 2011) which included a detailed case study and mapping proposal for what was then the nascent Ross Sea MPA idea. WDC celebrated the whale populations in the area, not just that it was the stronghold for the ecotype of Ross Sea orcas, but that it had substantial minke whale numbers as well as other whale species, and that it was a largely intact ecosystem, the last of its kind in the southern ocean. The Ross Sea was the jewel of WDC’s original “12 for 2012” MPA campaign — an effort to accelerate habitat protection for whales and dolphins around the world.

The small print on the agreement for the new MPA is that it will need to be revisited and renewed in 35 years. This buys a lot of time for nations of the world to appreciate its value.

For more about the Ross Sea, see http://uk.whales.org/wdc-in-action/proposal-for-marine-protection-of-ross-sea