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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...
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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...

Minke whale hunts stop in Iceland

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

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...

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...

SOS alert for whales off Norway!

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

Norway's whaling season begins

April 1st saw the start of the whaling season in Norway. Despite a widely-accepted international moratorium...

Norway increases whaling quota despite declining demand

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

Whales in a Changing Ocean Conference Marks Year of the Whale Celebrations in the Pacific

The preliminary results from the second Important Marine Mammal Area (IMMA) workshop in Samoa (27-31 March), have been presented at the “Whales in a Changing Ocean” conference held in Tonga (4-6 April). The IMMA workshop is part of a series of workshops co-sponsored by WDC, Tethys Research Institute and the IUCN Marine Mammal Protected Areas Task force while the “Whales in a Changing Ocean” conference was hosted by SPREP and the government of Tonga and co-sponsored with the Auckland Institute of Studies and many others.

The conference formed the centerpiece of SPREP’s Year of the Whale celebrations in the South Pacific. The conference brought together leaders of Pacific Island countries with researchers and conservationists to discuss future collaborations on the conservation of whales in the region, preparatory to the renewal of SPREP’s marine species programme. During the conference, the scientific work on whales and the economic value of whales in the Pacific islands, including whale watching, was reviewed and emerging threats to whales from changes occurring in the ocean were assessed.

At the start of the conference, the government of Tonga set the tone by announcing that it was formally declaring all Tongan waters as a whale and dolphin sanctuary. This initiative aims to achieve greater recognition and protection for species that provide substantial income within Tonga and the region, and that help to maintain a healthy ecosystem.

The conference had several results of value to the region.

The country representatives formulated and agreed on a declaration to strengthen whale conservation across the Pacific. Full text of the declaration is here. Currently, 11 countries that are SPREP members have formally signed the declaration: Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga and Tuvalu. These countries, as well as conference participants, agreed to cooperate to prepare the 2018-2023 Whale and Dolphin Action Plan that will provide a framework for conservation activities in the Pacific islands region.

In addition, three main recommendations emerged from the conference, based on working group sessions, in support of protecting whales and their habitats by improving scientific research, addressing threats to whales and promoting best practice whale watching. 

  1. SCIENCE: To, by December 2020, establish a validated inventory of whale and dolphin species, genetic distinctiveness and habitat use for each nation/territory of the SPREP region to improve understanding of ecological roles, economic and cultural values and better inform management.
  2. THREATS: That Pacific Island countries and territories, by 2022, enact protected areas to prevent the disturbance of marine mammals mindful of national targets, based on science and using precautionary approaches, and implement regional and national cetacean action plans.
  3. WHALE WATCHING: To establish, by June 2019, an annual whale celebration event across the Pacific that becomes a focal point for education and promoting best practice.

In addition, delegates agreed to support a regional perspective to be delivered at several upcoming international fora, notably the United Nations Oceans Conference in June.