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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...

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...

Did Icelandic whalers really kill a blue whale?

*Warning - this blog contains an image that you may find upsetting* They say a...

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...

What we must do to protect UK dolphins, porpoises and whales from fishing gear after Brexit

How the UK manages fishing in its waters after we leave the EU is outlined in the new Fisheries Bill. This legislation is working its way through the House of Commons and had its second reading last week. You may have been one of the 75,535 people who joined our campaign asking for a new law to include strong measures to stop dolphins, porpoises and whales dying in fishing nets (as ‘bycatch’) in UK seas – dolphin bycatch even got a mention when the Bill was being discussed in parliament.

This week, WDC submitted a response – focussed on bycatch – to the parliamentary committee that is reviewing the content of the Bill. 

The Fisheries Bill includes an important framework for managing bycatch, but it needs to be improved. It’s all very well having a top-level framework, but to actually stop dolphins, porpoises and whales dying a horrible death in fishing gear in our seas we’re going to need strong secondary legislation. This will contain the details and practical measures that will enable the law to be operational and enforced. That’s the message WDC provided in our response. 

When we presented our petition to Fisheries Minister, George Eustice last year, he stated his ambition to be a world-leader in tackling whale and dolphin bycatch, and internationally the UK government has a good track record in this regard. The UK is also streets ahead of many other countries in its consideration of whale and dolphin welfare in decision making and has shown leadership in efforts to reduce bycatch through various international conventions, including the International Whaling Commission (the body that regulates whaling). 

Here in the UK, approximately 1,500 harbour porpoises and hundreds of dolphins and seals, as well as whales, seabirds and sharks, still die in fishing gear deployed by the UK fleet every year. An unknown number (but likely as many) die in gear of non-UK fleets fishing in UK waters, as well as in UK nets in European waters. Also, worrying numbers of humpbacks and minke whales become entangled in static creel lines, mainly in Scotland. High levels of bycatch (including these entanglements) have continued for decades in some regions, including in the Celtic and Irish Sea, North Sea, English Channel and Scottish waters. Each individual dolphin, porpoise or whale who dies in a net suffers enormously and some populations may even be declining because of bycatch. The good news is that we can change this. The Fisheries Bill, and the secondary legislation I talked about earlier, provides us with that chance.

If the UK genuinely wants to be a world-leader in tackling dolphin, porpoise and whale bycatch, we need to improve the framework in the Fisheries Bill and put secondary legislation in place to implement it. With your support, we’re working with political and legal experts to make sure this happens and that the UK laws we have after Brexit are actually strong enough to stop the suffering and save lives.

If you would like to make a donation to help us with this important work, we promise to put it to good use straight away.