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More important ocean areas for whales and dolphin protection identified

Scientists and observers from many different countries have identified and mapped 36 new Important Marine...

Whale meat fetches record high at Japan auction

Sei whale meat is being sold at a record high in Japan according media reports...

Rescuers find young girl’s body surrounded by dolphins

Reports from South Africa about a tragic drowning off Llandudno beach, Cape Town say that...
The Yushin Maru catcher ship of the Japanese whaling fleet injures a whale with its first harpoon attempt, and takes a further three harpoon shots before finally killing the badly injured fleeing whale. Finally they drowned the mammal beneath the harpooon deck of the ship to kill it.  Southern Ocean.  07.01.2006

Moves to overturn whaling ban rejected

Last week, the 68th meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC, the body that regulates...
All policy news
  • All policy news
  • Create healthy seas
  • End captivity
  • Prevent deaths in nets
  • Stop whaling
  • Strandings

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...

Atlantic salmon net pens threaten wild salmon, endangered orcas

An investigation into the August 2017 disaster at an Atlantic salmon net pen facility in the Salish Sea, an inland waterway home to multiple types of whales and dolphins, found that the scale of the event was greatly downplayed by the owners of the fish farm.  Washington State launched an investigation into the facility after a net-pen collapsed and released hundreds of thousands of non-native Atlantic salmon into the ecosystem.

The investigation found that Cooke Aquaculture, the company that owns and operates all eight Atlantic salmon net pen facilities in Washington State waters, underreported the number of escaped fish, did not perform essential maintenance at the site, and misled agencies about earlier incidents at the same facility. 

The crisis sparked an outcry of public opposition to the practice of raising non-native Atlantic salmon in open-water net pens.  Long opposed by conservation groups, fishermen, and native Tribes, these farms release untreated waste and pollutants into the water, can transmit disease and parasites to endangered wild salmon, and raise concerns that escaped Atlantic salmon will out-compete native salmon for valuable resources and become established in regional rivers.  In the Cypress Island incident, as many as 263,000 fish were released, and are still being caught in rivers vital for wild salmon.

Multiple bills have been introduced in the Washington State Legislature this year to respond to the crisis, with options ranging from an immediate ban on Atlantic salmon net pens to a requirement to only raise female fish. 

Though Washington is the only U.S. state with Atlantic salmon net pens (they are banned outright in California and Alaska, and Atlantic salmon are considered an invasive species in Oregon), the practice is widespread in British Columbia, Canada, where it has been a subject of controversy for decades.  The industry has met fierce opposition in Canada since the first net pens were built.  Following a recent extended occupation of fish farms off Northern Vancouver Island, First Nations leaders met with the provincial government to express their concerns.  Since late summer 2017, First Nations in Canada have increased their opposition to net pens in their traditional territories.

In the wake of the net-pen collapse at Cypress Island in August, Cooke Aquaculture’s other facilities in Washington are undergoing inspection, and one lease near Port Angeles has already been terminated.  As a result of the investigation, the Washington Department of Ecology has fined Cooke $332,000 USD for violating a water-quality permit and has terminated their lease at Cypress Island. 

Non-native fish farms pose a significant threat to wild salmon in the Pacific region, a primary food source for the endangered Southern Resident and threatened Northern Resident orca communities.  “Our native salmon are not doing well.  It is death by 1,000 cuts. And this is another cut,” said Amy Windrope, north Puget Sound director for Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

WDC is working with the Our Sound, Our Salmon coalition to end Atlantic salmon open-water farming in Washington State.  Learn more about our efforts, and how you can help.