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Humpback whale

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Winning for whales at big international science meeting

A Baby Humpback Whale Plays Near the Surface in Blue Water

Our team have been representing whales and dolphins at the important Scientific Committee meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC – the body that regulates whale hunts around the globe).

Over 200 experts from many nations gathered to give their insight, including those from WDC who worked tirelessly to secure the best possible outcomes around threats to whales and dolphins from collisions with shipping,, chemical pollution and deaths in nets (bycatch) - including a presentation on the recent successes of our work in Scotland to reduce whale entanglements by working with fishers to trial a new type of sinking fishing gear.
Our team also raised the role of whales in keeping the ocean healthy, highlighting where the knowledge gaps are when it comes to whales and the marine ecosystem. We know that they cycle nutrients, store carbon, and even provide essential habitats for other deep-sea species when their bodies fall to the ocean floor, but we need more data to plug those gaps in order to convince policy makers of this. An IWC workshop will now be held to prioritise boosting knowledge in this area.

Importantly, gaining the backing of the Scientific Committee for both projects means we are now able to continue them.

The role of the smaller whales and dolphins in ecosystems will be considered for the first time in the IWC’s history, and new Conservation Management Plans were also approved for multiple species (including Lahille’s bottlenose dolphin and Guiana dolphin). The latest population estimates were discussed for critically endangered species such as the vaquita and north Atlantic right whale, and much more.

You can read the report here.