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A dolphin called Arnie with a shell

Dolphins catch fish using giant shell tools

In Shark Bay, Australia, two groups of dolphins have figured out how to use tools...
Common dolphins at surface

Did you know that dolphins have unique personalities?

We all have personalities, and between the work Christmas party and your family get-together, perhaps...
Leaping harbour porpoise

The power of harbour porpoise poo

We know we need to save the whale to save the world. Now we are...
Holly. Image: Miray Campbell

Meet Holly, she’s an incredible orca leader

Let me tell you the story of an awe-inspiring orca with a fascinating family story...
Humpback whale. Image: Christopher Swann

A story about whales and humans

As well as working for WDC, I write books for young people. Stories; about the...
Risso's dolphin at surface

My lucky number – 13 years studying amazing Risso’s dolphins

Everything we learn about the Risso's dolphins off the coast of Scotland amazes us and...
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...
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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...

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...

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...

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...

Icelandic fin whale hunting to resume

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

Opportunity lost in EU Ministers bycatch vote

On Tuesday there was an important vote in the European Parliament Fisheries Committee about fisheries conservation measures including future bycatch measures for dolphins, porpoises and whales. Here is a summary of what happened in the vote on bycatch

The existing (inadequate) rules for monitoring and mitigating dolphin and porpoise bycatch remain intact for now and most importantly, efforts by some MEPs to remove existing bycatch measures in the Baltic Sea and South Western Waters (off Spain and Portugal) were rejected. Both of these regions contain genetically distinct and declining populations of harbour porpoises, due to being incidentally caught in fishing gear, so they need all the protection that they can get. Both porpoise populations are in a perilous state and are in desperate need of better protection from fishing nets, so fending off efforts to remove existing, wholly inadequate protection seem to me like a very hollow victory. 

Bycatch measures that the Commission proposed for the >12 metre fishing vessels deploying static fishing gear in the Mediterranean and Black Sea to use acoustic deterrent devices to scare marine mammals away from nets also remain intact.

However, this was a real lost opportunity for the EU Fisheries Ministers to improve the existing bycatch measures and to expand the measures to include other protected species that die in large numbers in some European fisheries, such as seals and seabirds. Further, efforts to consider the welfare implications of bycatch were rejected. The requirement under the EU Habitats Directive is to offer dolphins, porpoises and whales “strict protection” and yet, existing bycatch laws are certainly not protecting them adequately. 

There was a general and serious weakening of language throughout the file for all fisheries measures, and a very disappointing move away from science and conservation. Here’s what our colleagues at Seas at RiskClientEarth and Bird Life had to say about the proposed new rules.

In a lucky twist, at the end of the session, the Fisheries Committee surprisingly voted for the adopted report to be presented to European Parliament Plenary for a vote, so we very much welcome this additional level of transparency and a further opportunity for engagement. The outcome of the Plenary vote will then form the basis of future trilogue negotiations.

Overall, this was a dark day for Europe’s marine environment. I hope some improvements can be made at Plenary because too many species needlessly die in fishing gear every year.

Please support our work to end the needless deaths of whales and dolphins in fishing gear and nets.