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New Report: Escalating hunts kill over 100,000 small whales and dolphins

Hunted Clymene dolphins, Ghana
Hunted Clymene dolphins, Ghana

We have teamed up with conservation organization Pro Wildlife to produce a report that shines a spotlight on the horrific numbers of small cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) being slaughtered around the world, driving some populations towards extinction.

According to our study, more than 100,000 are currently killed each year, with increasing numbers being chopped up just to be used as bait in commercial fisheries or, in the case of the endangered boto (Amazon river dolphin), killed and used as a spurious corona virus ‘cure’.

Hunting is on the rise in many countries leading to both organizations calling on coastal states and the International Whaling Commission (IWC – the body that regulates whale and dolphin hunting) to take action to prevent more and more populations and species from disappearing altogether.

The joint report Small Cetaceans – Even Bigger Problems provides a global review of directed hunts on dolphins, porpoises and small whales and, compared to figures from the last time such a report was published in 2018, the situation for small cetaceans is worse than ever.

Main findings of the report:

  1. Killed for bait
    At least 30 species of small cetaceans are known to be used as bait, either through targeted hunts or by using animals caught in fishing nets.
  2. Killed because they eat fish
    Fishers around the globe are killing dolphins, with the aim of decimating ‘alleged competitors’ for dwindling fish stocks. The claim that dolphins are responsible for the declining fish stocks is false.
  3. Killed to ‘cure’ coronavirus
    Serious concerns are raised about river dolphins, especially in the Amazon region. Every single year thousands of these endangered boto dolphins are slaughtered and their oil has recently been used to treat Covid infections.
  4. Killed in new locations
    The hunting and consumption of small cetaceans has become a relatively new practice in some areas, such as in Indonesia, the Philippines and Tristao Islands (Guinea).

Countries have a duty of care to both their citizens and to the wildlife in local waters. International agreements between countries to protect and conserve small cetaceans, for example the Convention on Migratory Species (of which the next meeting will take place from 12 to 17 February in Uzbekistan) and the IWC (of which the Scientific Committee will meet in April in Slovenia), must take urgent action to regulate approved hunts and bring an end to illegal hunts. Failure to do so will ultimately result in the local extirpation of several populations around the world.