A UK manifesto for whales and dolphins
Ahead of the UK’s general election on 8th June, WDC recommends three achievable and critical steps to directly improve the welfare and protection of whales, dolphins and porpoises in the next Parliament.
These recommendations include the UK continuing to lead international action to end commercial whaling. For decades, the UK has been a leading voice for whales and dolphins within the International Whaling Commission (IWC), providing leadership and expertise. The UK has represented the British public (where a recent WDC petition on the issue garnered some 267,000 signatures) in their desire to see the end of commercial whaling and appropriate controls on traditional whaling by native peoples.
In UK waters, we recommend supporting fishermen so all boats fairly apply stronger practices to monitor and reduce the accidental catching of dolphins, porpoises and whales in fishing gear. The UK has the most robust and long-term bycatch and strandings monitoring scheme in Europe. Resulting evidence demonstrates that thousands of dolphins and porpoises continue to accidentally die in fishing gear in UK waters each year. Non-UK boats operating in UK water may apply weaker practices. The EU is currently revising its regulations and evidence shows that further efforts are needed to reduce bycatch. If you haven’t already, please sign our petition to stop dolphins, porpoises and whales dying in fishing gear in UK waters.
More generally, we recommend maintaining and improving evidence-based protection of wildlife in UK waters, including in our marine protected areas (MPAs) network. For example, Bottlenose dolphin Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) established in the 1990s have provided essential protection, including robust and evidenced management that has not unduly restricted sustainable marine activities. The Moray Firth bottlenose dolphins, protected with an SAC, bring more than £4 million into the UK economy annually. In 2016, the UK and Scottish governments designated harbour porpoise SACs and, in addition, potential marine conservation zones include a site to help protect habitat for white-beaked dolphins. If well managed, these sites will make an important contribution to the developing ecologically coherent network of MPAs in UK waters.
If acted on, our recommendations would protect thousands of whales, dolphins and porpoises from cruelty and death. We believe there would be relatively little additional cost if not net benefit to the UK economy and industry from these actions.
WDC also supports the calls of Wildlife and Countryside Link, of which we are a member, that restore and enhance whale, dolphin and porpoise habitat and ecosystem.
We would ask all those who want to see a world safe and free for whales and dolphins to consider all the issues above before you cast your vote. If you are feeling confident then, politely, challenge any candidates you meet to ask what they will be doing for whales and dolphins and our marine environment?
When you get a chance, please also circulate this blog by social media before the general election and help us to secure a world safe and free for every whale and dolphin.