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Risso's dolphins are captured in Taiji hunt. Image: LIA and Dolphin Project

Heartbreak and practical action – the horror of the Taiji dolphin hunts and one Japanese activist’s determination

Back in November, I shared my heartache at the drama unfolding in the waters off...
Common Dolphin

Goodbye Bycatch – what have we achieved and what’s next?

Thank you to everyone who's got involved with our campaign to stop dolphins, porpoises and...
Haul of sea bass on French pair trawlers, Le Baron and Magellan, fishing in the English channel. Greenpeace is currently in the English channel protesting against pelagic pair trawling due to the high numbers of dolphin deaths associated with it.


Ali and Lucy Tabrizi's Netflix film Seaspiracy is compelling viewing for anyone who cares for...
Porpoise, Conwy Wales. WDC

Why do porpoises and dolphins find it so difficult to avoid fishing nets?

When a dolphin or porpoise is caught or entangled in fishing gear it's known as...

Reflection – what this remarkable whale teaches us about humpbacks and their fascinating lives

Reflection, like all humpback whales, was born with a unique black and white pattern on...

Meet the brainiacs of the underwater world – deep thinkers with intricate emotional lives

Whales and dolphins have big brains, and large brained beings have a few things in...

Growing up with the amazing Adelaide Port River dolphins

Squeak, one of the Port River dolphins If you are able to make a donation,...

Real lives lost – the true dolphin, porpoise and whale stories behind the bycatch statistics

Every dolphin, porpoise and whale who dies in fishing gear was an individual with their...

What does the referendum decision mean for whales and dolphins?

We don’t yet know how the UK’s political future will play out, or precisely how it will affect whales and dolphins and our work to protect them. That will depend on the type of relationship the UK has with the EU, on the type of government we have, and how committed both bodies are to protecting whales and dolphins.

What we can be certain of is our continued commitment to whales and dolphins, and our determination to deliver on key programmes, in any, and all political scenarios.

Whales and dolphins live in our oceans and rivers. They do not recognize national boundaries or political ‘structures.’  Similarly, the issues affecting them often occur a long way from shore and are rarely caused by just one country. They are often ‘international’ in nature. Effective protection of whales and dolphins therefore, has to be international too, covering all waters and supported by many countries, working together. It needs action by governments, individually and through international fora such as the International Whaling Commission and bodies such as the EU. WDC has always known this. As an organization, with offices in the UK and Germany as well as other parts of the world, we are well placed to work closely with the UK government and the EU; applying pressure; holding decision makers to account on all necessary protection and giving advice where it is needed.

We rely on our strong values and determination to get the very best from the changes to come, whatever they may be. 

Your continued support is vital, and we are grateful for it. Please be assured, that no matter what the future brings, WDC will continue to operate across borders and oceans, using the  most appropriate global protection measures we can influence; through the use of all state and country level mechanisms, all the way down to encouraging the actions of individual citizens, be they of the UK, of Europe or the world. And we shall continue until we have a world where every whale and dolphin is safe and free.

For information on how the decision might affect our key programmes, please read below.

Stop whaling

WDC is currently running a campaign to use a proposed EU trade deal with Japan, to stop its whaling:

It is essential that we continue to apply pressure within the EU over coming months to stop Japan gaining a valuable trade deal, whilst whales continue to needlessly die. The referendum decision doesn’t affect WDC’s will or ability to deliver this important campaign. But it has given the campaign more urgency.

Longer term, as a separate country within the International Whaling Commission (the EU vote as a ‘bloc’, the UK outside of the EU will continue to have one vote, just as  countries such as the USA and Norway do), our work with the UK government will be critical as it always was to the fight to end whaling.

Various UK governments have always been pro-whale, the UK has long been a strong pro-whale voice within the IWC, both in its own right and within the EU. There is no reason to think this will change, but whatever happens, our role will be to work with the government of the day to ensure they represent the will of the UK population, which remains fervently anti-whaling.

End captivity

EU legislation offers opportunities to address the issue at a multi country level. We will continue to push for laws that prevent capture and restrict movement of dolphins into European aquaria.

We will also continue building our case for sanctuaries, and looking for practical ways to help dolphins in captivity.

Homes for whales and dolphins

It is perhaps in this area of our work, that we face the most uncertainty.  EU legislation has been critical in establishing SACs (Special Areas of Conservation) and other forms of marine protected areas. WDC believes protected areas are a significant conservation tool when designed and implemented properly.

The EU has many conventions, rules and regulations, which the UK government has commitments to abide by. Nothing has changed in that regard, and this will continue to be the case for a minimum of two years.

Thereafter, when the UK has left the EU,  will the UK honour any non-implemented agreements it has signed up to? We do not know, but WDC believes that international cooperation is essential to ensuring trans-boundary protective measures are implemented

What is certain is that effective protected areas will mean countries co-operating on measures affecting oil exploration, fisheries, noise levels and other issues.

Ending bycatch

As with our other programmes; European wide legislation has the potential for delivering wonderful, far-reaching conservation measures.  But current measures at euro wide and country level are dreadfully inadequate, so WDC shall work in the EU, and in the UK to restrict fishing practices that kill dolphins,, and work to encourage practices that reduce death in nets.

Rights for whales and dolphins

This is a rapidly evolving and critical part of WDC’s work. As hard evidence of the intelligence and complexity of whales and dolphins piles up, the case for rights is becoming clearer and stronger. Enabling such rights, like so much of the above, is something we have to work on at a global and local level: from the UN, to multi-state agreements and forums, at country, and even state level.