Whales and dolphins face threats each and every day but every day our supporters, volunteers and partners make an invaluable contribution to our work. We are extremely grateful for this support.
Take a look at some of WDC’s recent achievements that you helped to make possible!
You can also find out more in our annual review.
Cut supply routes – WDC supporters helped persuade the EU Parliament to vote in favour of creating EU-laws to stop whale meat being moved through EU ports.
Laws changed - WDC reviewed Danish regulations on whale meat imports, resulting in changes to Danish law. Rules for import are now much stricter.
Online whale meat sales stopped – WDC exposed and stopped illegal online whale meat sales in Japan – including in dog treats!
Icelandic tourists shun whale meat – we are telling tourists that they are propping up a dying industry. A decade ago, 40% of tourists sampled whale meat: today, the figure is around 12%.
St Vincent and the Grenadines - Following negotiation with WDC, one of the two remaining humpback whalers is turning from whaling to whale watching. Two boats dedicated to whale and wildlife watching tours were launched in 2020 in the region.
Since 2014, WDC has supported a project called Promotion of Responsible Whale Watching in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, which is run by Argentinean organisation and WDC partner, Fundación Cethus, in cooperation with the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Preservation Fund (SVGPF), a local conservation group.
Iceland and Norway -Thanks to WDC the fishing company with the closest links to whaling is under pressure. We have been working with Tesco to get leverage, promising they will lift their powerful embargo if the company Hvalur stop whaling!
We asked Radisson Hotels to stop selling whale meat at the Park Inn Radisson, Keflavik. The Group immediately removed whale meat from the menu. WDC continues to put pressure on tourist serving restaurants and hotels not to serve whale meat, reducing demand and hurting the whalers’ interests.
WDC helped expose the hunt of rare blue/fin whale hybrid whales in Iceland.
Minke whaling ceased in Iceland in 2020. Fin whaling was also cancelled this year.
Japan - Japan's continued trade in endangered sei whales from international waters was ruled illegal by CITES (The Convention regulating trade in endangered species), which led to Japan ending its catches of sei whales in the high seas of the North Pacific.
Captivity banned in India – WDC supporters helped us work with local campaigners to persuade the Indian government to ban whale and dolphin captivity.
TripAdvisor, Virgin and British Airways end support for cruel whale and dolphin shows – in 2019, thanks to WDC campaigning, TripAdvisor, Virgin Holidays and British Airways agreed to stop selling tickets to SeaWorld and other attractions that hold whales and dolphins captive.
US beluga whale import stopped – WDC supporters helped stop captured beluga whales being imported into the United States of America.
Sanctuary – WDC is at the forefront of change with the world’s first Beluga Whale Sanctuary which launched in 2019. Working closely with our partners, The SEA LIFE Trust we have secured an open-water Icelandic location that two captive belugas now call home.
Ending the support of EU operators for captive whale and dolphin shows:
- Following WDC’s campaign to end tour operator support for whale and dolphin captivity, in 2018 the UK’s largest tour operator, Thomas Cook, announced it will no longer sell tickets to facilities holding orcas in captivity, including any SeaWorld park in the US and Loro Parque in Tenerife, Spain.
- Following our campaign calling on cruise ship operator Carnival to end its support for whale and dolphin captivity, the company is carrying out an audit of all the captive whale and dolphin facilities it sells tickets to around the world.
Germany – In 2018 WDC Germany met politicians from almost all parliamentary parties to get closer to its goal of a dolphinaria-free Germany. The Social democrats agreed to cooperate and state publicly its opposition to keeping dolphins in zoos.
Today there are around 3,000 whales and dolphins held captive in aquariums, zoos and marine parks. One day, we’ll look back on this time and think, how could this barbaric cruelty ever have been considered entertainment? Help us end captivity now.
Prevent deaths in fishing gear
WDC was amongst the first to identify and detail the welfare impacts of fishing gear on individual porpoises, dolphins and whales.
Reducing the risk of entanglements in the US - WDC’s helped to reduce the number of vertical (buoy) lines along the east coast, reducing the risk of entanglement to large whales.
Reducing deaths of harbour porpoise in the US - as a member of the Harbour Porpoise Take Reduction Team, WDC helped significantly reduce bycatch in gillnets, by requiring the use of ‘pingers,’ that alert porpoises to the nets.
New Zealand - WDC produced an App for collecting sightings data on endangered Hector’s and critically endangered Maui dolphins in New Zealand. They are declining due to bycatch in static gear and trawls. The data is helping us identify the areas needed to protect them.
After years of campaigning by WDC, in 2020 the New Zealand Government announced the extension of protection for Māui dolphins on the West Coast of the North Island; the ban on set nets at the top of the South Island; and the expansion of protections on the East Coast of the South Island.
EU – WDC has highlighted technical flaws and identified required improvements in current bycatch laws. We are lobbying to influence new measures being developed by the European Parliament and the European Council.
UK – Our campaign led to the UK Bycatch Focus Group and a commitment from the Fisheries Minister to develop a UK wide bycatch strategy.
Scotland – WDC initiated a collaborative project aimed at understanding the number of whales and other marine life entangled in fishing ropes in Scottish waters.
Create Healthy Seas
Marine protected area created in Antarctica – thanks to WDC supporters, we successfully campaigned to create the world’s largest marine protected area in the Ross Sea, covering 1.55 million square kilometres.
Marine protected area created in Bangladesh – WDC supported the creation of the first marine protected area in the seas off Bangladesh.
Speed limit set for ships – WDC supporters helped us campaign for a law that limits the speed of ships along the east coast of the United States. This has reduced the threat of harmful or lethal collisions with North Atlantic right whales by 90%, though the population is still at great risk from entanglement in fishing gear.
Identifying Important Marine Mammal Areas, or IMMAs – Over the past two years WDC has helped sponsor expert workshops to identify whale and dolphin habitats in need of protection in the Mediterranean, Pacific Islands and the North East Indian Ocean and South East Asian seas. Some 78 IMMAs have now passed review and more are awaiting approval in the western Indian Ocean and vast Antarctic seas.
UK - The Scottish government has announced that the three proposed MPAs to protect Risso’s dolphins and minke whales, that WDC has worked for over many years are on track to be established.
Latin America - WDC has worked with the governments of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay to create or implement MPAs for river and estuarine dwelling dolphins such the franciscana.
USA - We helped a bill pass that will phase out Atlantic salmon net pens in Puget Sound (a key food source for orcas)
WDC successfully pushed the Canadian government to expand critical habitat for Southern Resident orcas and protect key feeding areas.
Through its At the Helm of Conservation project, WDC is training boaters to operate safely in whale habitats as well as identify and report entangled whales to permitted responders.
Germany - In 2018 WDC Germany office initiated a plastics reduction challenge "Say yes to less plastic". With our corporate partners the first year results are: 18,600 coffee-to-go cups, 20,000 plastic straws and 2,000 Tetra Paks saved.
Every whale and dolphin - safe & free
There are 4 vital ways that we are fighting for the survival of whales and dolphins.
Together we can:
Whales and dolphins have a right to live free and healthy lives. These highly intelligent individuals should not suffer for human entertainment.
Commercial whaling is illegal. And yet, every year, Japan, Norway and Iceland kill around 1,500 whales.
Create healthy seas
Commercial fishing, oil and gas drilling, and shipping are threatening the lives of whales and dolphins.
Prevent deaths in nets
Hundreds of thousands of whales and dolphins are accidentally caught and killed in fishing gear every year.