Happy birthday WDC, and here’s to the next 30 years!
22 November 2017 - 10:50am
Will you make a donation to help us protect whales and dolphins for the next 30 years? Thank you.
WDC is 30 years-old and I am incredibly proud of the team of people - staff, volunteers, partners and supporters - who have helped achieve our many successes during those three decades. But the very fact that WDC is needed more today than we have ever been should cause us to reflect.
Today, whaling, whilst much reduced, is still a threat. Bycatch is killing hundreds of thousands of whales and dolphins a year. We are polluting our marine environment with chemicals and plastics like never before, and we are seeing captive display facilities spring up in new parts of the world, imprisoning more whales and dolphins to suffer in tiny tanks.
However, there is good reason to celebrate our 30 years. With the backing and encouragement of our incredible supporters, we are proud of what we have achieved so far.
Together we have never wavered in our fight to end whale hunting. WDC has played a leading role at the International Whaling Commission (IWC – the body that regulates commercial hunts) and the Convention in Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), providing much needed scientific, legal and policy advice and intervention. WDC has rallied countries to oppose abuses of so-called ‘scientific whaling’ and to oppose all attempts to compromise on the issue of commercial whaling and trade in whale products. I truly believe that if WDC had not been engaged with these major political fora, the ban on commercial whaling would have been lifted in recent years.
At WDC, we’ve never been scared to fight to improve things and I remain particulary proud of WDC’s work to end the use of the electric lance in Japan, as this was a particularly cruel method for killing whales.
WDC has been a pioneer in many areas. We were one of the first organisations to highlight the threat of noise pollution to whales and dolphins and to draw attention to the threats of PCBs and other manmade organic chemicals.
We were also one of the first to challenge the view that the display of captive whales and dolphins was educational and ethical. Our position was never just a gut reaction to the cruelty we encountered, but came from matching our passion and empathy with thorough scientific study from which we could make progressive recommendations for what could be done to change the world for these captive individuals.
WDC was proud to be one of the first organisations to champion the plight of the forgotten river dolphins, and we are now really pleased to see many other NGOs and governments working to address their specific needs.
We have been the forerunners of new conservation thinking on how marine protected areas could be used to protect whales and dolphins, and our early work with the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) set standards in how international agreements could proactively protect whales and dolphins and the marine environment.
I am also proud of the partnerships we have developed along the way, not just with our supporters and with other charities and NGOs, but also with governments and corporate partners who share our ambition for a world where every whale and dolphin is safe and free. The support we’ve received from people like you has made a real difference and more whales are alive today because of it.
The reality is that there are always emergent threats to whales and dolphins and the tasks before us are never done. As WDC has grown in stature, the more people expect of what remains a lean and small team of committed individuals.
WDC is always ready to adapt to the changing environment and over the last few years we have been championing new ways of thinking on how to protect the marine environment and its inhabitants. We encourage people to value whales and dolphins both for the role they play in helping us combat climate change and maintaining a healthy ocean environment, and also for the socially-complex and culturally-rich lives they live which require us to think in new ways to ensure that conservation efforts can succeed.
Some things may well get worse before they get better. During the last decades we’ve seen the effective extinction of the baiji. Now, vaquitas and Maui dolphins are struggling to survive the threat of accidental capture in fishing nets. The world is finally waking-up to the problem of plastics in our oceans, the whaling industry is not finished yet, and whilst the captive display of whales and dolphins is being rolled back in the Americas and Europe, more facilities are springing up, especially in Asia.
Whales and dolphins are now recognised as the one of the keystone species on this small, shared world of ours. Increasingly people are realising their survival is intimately entwined with that of our own.
The next 30 years will certainly not be easy, but I can see a brighter future. Together with your support we can rise to the challenge - sometime shouting from the rooftops and sometimes quietly working behind the scenes.
Please make a donation today to enable us to continue our vital work for whales and dolphins for the next 30 years. Thank you.