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WDC joins US network to help rescue whales and dolphins

Goods news for whales and dolphins in the US. WDC's team there has officially joined...
Bryde's whale

Whalers in Japan return to port with over 200 whales

Japan's factory whaling ship, the "Nisshin Maru" returned to port on November 14th at the...
North Atlantic right whale

Success! Court stops US government attempt to block whale protection lawsuit

A federal court in the US has dismissed attempts by Joe Biden's administration to halt...

More good news for WDC’s End Captivity tour operators campaign

WDC's ongoing campaign asking tour operators not to promote cruel whale and dolphin captivity shows...
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'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...

WDC joins group legal action to force protection for endangered North Atlantic right whales

North Atlantic right whale

Conservation groups in the US, including WDC have sued the National Marine Fisheries Service (the US federal agency responsible for the stewardship of national marine resources) for failing to respond to two rule making petitions to protect critically endangered right whales from being run over and killed by ships and boats in US waters.

The groups are calling for more speed limits to reduce the number of vessel strikes.

Just over half of known or suspected right whale deaths since 2017 have been attributed to vessel strikes, closely followed by entanglements in fishing gear. In just the past year, two of only 10 baby right whales born to the species were killed by vessel strikes off the coasts of Florida and New Jersey.

‘Vessel collisions with whales are not intentional, but they can be harmful to the whale, damage the vessel, and injure passengers,’ said Regina Asmutis-Silvia, executive director of Whale and Dolphin Conservation’s North American office. ‘This is a problem with a tangible solution, on which the existence of an entire species and the safety of human lives depend.’

Whale and Dolphin Conservation, Defenders of Wildlife, Conservation Law Foundation and the Center for Biological Diversity filed the lawsuit in federal district court in Washington, DC. The groups filed a legal petition in June 2012 and another in August 2020 following the second fatal right whale-vessel collision in six months.

Last January, the propellers of a passing vessel sliced through the head and mouth of a newborn right whale. He or she has not been seen again. In June, the six-month-old son of a right whale named Snow Cone was struck twice; the first injury caused serious and painful injuries, and the second blow killed him.

The agency has not responded to either petition. The petitions ask the Fisheries Service to expand the areas and times when its existing 10-knot speed-limit rule applies, to make all voluntary vessel-speed restrictions mandatory, and to apply the rule to small vessels (shorter than 65 feet) as well as large ones to avoid collisions that kill and injure right whales.

‘We need to have slowdowns in right whale danger zones just like we have lower speed limits near schools,’ said Jane Davenport, a senior attorney at Defenders of Wildlife. ‘Last year boat strikes killed a newborn and a six-month-old. Each of these tragic deaths robs the mother of her baby and the species of its future. It’s past time for the Fisheries Service to act on these common-sense speed limits.’

North Atlantic right whales are among the world’s most at risk marine mammals, with only about 360 individuals alive today. Thirty-two right whales have been found dead since 2017, and the Fisheries Service believes at least another 14 have died, or will die, from existing injuries. The agency estimates the actual number of deaths each year is likely much higher, since most dead whales sink.

The groups filed the lawsuit under the Administrative Procedure Act. The agency has 60 days to respond.

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