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We need whale poo 📷 WDC NA

Whales are our climate allies – meet the scientists busy proving it

At Whale and Dolphin Conservation, we're working hard to bring whales and the ocean into...
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...
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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.