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Icelandic hunting vessels in port

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Blue whale tail Christopher Swann

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Success! We help secure higher protection for endangered porpoise at UN meeting

Iberian and Baltic harbour porpoises face extinction without urgent action
Iberian and Baltic harbour porpoises face extinction without urgent action

We are very excited to report that our work with other partner organisations has helped secure the highest level of protection for a critically endangered population of common harbour porpoise in the central Baltic Sea.

Only a few hundred of these porpoises are left alive and effective measures to enable their recovery have been lacking. But, following our hard work to change this perilous situation, the UN Convention of Migratory Species (CMS COP14) has agreed today to include the Baltic Proper harbour porpoise in its Appendix I category (the highest protection status), which formally recognises the population as critically endangered and means emergency measures can now be taken to save them.

Whale and Dolphin Conservation, Humane Society International, Coalition Clean Baltic and ORCA made a decisive contribution to the decision, submitting a joint report to CMS calling for stronger protections for this specific harbour porpoise populations, and to restore its habitat. As a result, the CMS member states of the EU submitted a proposal for the Baltic Proper harbour porpoise to be included in Appendix I of the Convention.

This new protection status enables priority conservation measures to be taken to prevent, remove or mitigate obstacles to their seasonal migration and to control other factors that might endanger their survival. The main threats to the Baltic Proper harbour porpoise include bycatch, underwater noise and pollution.

The harbour porpoise is one of the smallest species within the larger family of cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises). Previously, we conducted an awareness-raising campaign for the Baltic Proper harbour porpoise with the aim of achieving a year-round ban on gillnets in marine protected areas. A petition with more than 100,000 signatures was submitted to the German government in September 2021. We also initiated an open letter to the German government, signed by more than 100 cetacean experts from around the world, calling for effective measures to protect the Baltic Proper harbour porpoise. Our educational work continues to this day.

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