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Mindful conservation – why we need a new respect for nature

'We should look at whales and dolphins as the indigenous people of the seas -...
tins of whale meat

How Japan’s whaling industry is trying to convince people to eat whales

Japan's hunters kill hundreds of whales every year despite the fact that hardly anyone in...
Common dolphins © Christopher Swann

Did you know dolphins have personalities?

Kidzone - quick links Fun Facts Our Goals Curious kids Kids blogs Fantastic fundraisers Gallery...
Microplastics on beach

Blue whales and the menace of microplastics – how we’ll solve this problem

Our love affair with plastic began in the 1950s when it revolutionised manufacturing. But what...
A dolphin called Arnie with his 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...

WDC Boycotts Federally Mandated Harbor Porpoise Meeting

WDC was among the “no-shows” at last week’s Harbor Porpoise Take Reduction Team meeting in Providence, Rhode Island. Some conservationists as well as the entire delegation of experts from the science and academic community chose to “boycott” this meeting.  The issue? A decision made by John Bullard, the Northeast Regional Administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service. Bullard’s fall decision allowed fishing in an area that his Agency’s regulations had mandated for a two month closure despite evidence of the increasing number of harbor porpoises killed as a result of the fishing industry’s low compliance with fishing federal regulations designed to reduce mortality.  Affordable acoustic “pingers” have been shown to reduce mortality of porpoises by up to 90% and they are required for use in New England during much of the time when porpoises are in the area in greatest numbers.  There has been a federal mandate to use these “pingers” since 1998.  But compliance with the mandate has recently slipped badly. 

The Harbor Porpoise Take Reduction Team is a federally appointed group of scientists, conservationists, fishermen, and state and federal agency representatives mandated by the Marine Mammal Protection Act to develop plans to reduce marine mammal bycatch in specific fisheries when the operation of the fishery results in high levels of mortality.  In 2008, the Team, including members of the fisheries, agreed that if compliance with fishing regulations mandating pinger use was not adequate, mandatory “consequence” closures would be put in place for short periods in specific locations to protect the porpoises.  As a result of increasing numbers of harbor porpoises being killed in the past several years, and only 41% of the fishery complying with regulations, fishermen were notified in March of this year that areas off Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine would be closed to fishing in October and November, a time when harbor porpoise deaths were so high that even if no additional mortality occurred, the numbers were still too high to not harm the population.

About Regina Asmutis-silvia

Executive director - WDC North America