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Humpback whale underwater

Climate giants – how whales can help save the world

We know that whales, dolphins and porpoises are amazing beings with complex social and family...
Black Sea common dolphins © Elena Gladilina

The dolphin and porpoise casualties of the war in Ukraine

Rare, threatened subspecies of dolphins and porpoises live in the Black Sea along Ukraine's coast....
WDC's Ed Fox, Chris Butler-Stroud and Carla Boreham take a message from the ocean to parliament

Taking a message from the ocean to parliament

It's a sad fact that whales and dolphins don't vote in human elections, but I...
Minke whale © Ursula Tscherter - ORES

The whale trappers are back with their cruel experiment

Anyone walking past my window might have heard my groan of disbelief at the news...
Boto © Fernando Trujillo

Meet the legendary pink river dolphins

Botos don't look or live like other dolphins. Flamingo-pink all over with super-skinny snouts and...
Tokitae in captivity

Talking to TUI – will they stop supporting whale and dolphin captivity?

Last Thursday I travelled to Berlin for a long-anticipated meeting with TUI senior executives. I...

Earth Day Q&A with Waipapa Bay Wines’ marketing director, Fran Draper

We've been partnered with Waipapa Bay Wines since 2019 so for this year's Earth Day,...
Orcas at the seabed

The secrets of orca beach life

Rubbing on smooth pebbles is a generations-old cultural tradition for a particular group of orcas...

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