Skip to content
Spinner dolphins © Rob Lott/WDC

Our 4 goals

WDC aims and objectives

Whales and dolphins face huge challenges over the coming years but WDC is determined to fight for them wherever and whenever we can. We’re not a huge organisation with limitless resource, so we’re making sure we focus our expertise and passion on the most important areas and where we believe we can make the biggest difference.

With your help we’re focusing on the following programmes.

End captivity

Orca group in captivity © Rob Lott/WDC

Over 3,600 whales and dolphins remain in tanks. But the tide is turning. People like you are boycotting captive aquaria and supporting WDC to do critical work.

In recent years we have campaigned for holiday companies to stop selling trips to SeaWorld and other aquaria; leading to the Virgin pledge for all aquaria to stop imports of wild caught whales and dolphins and many travel companies agreeing to no longer promote or sell tickets to marine parks. We have also helped prevent the opening of new aquaria and even a total captivity ban in India, Croatia, Slovenia and other countries.

Our focus now is on:

Creating sea sanctuaries where whales and dolphins can be relocated to live more natural lives, if they cannot be returned to the wild

  • Working with Merlin Entertainments on a Sanctuary to retire captive belugas to a natural sea pen
  • Providing expert advice on other potential sanctuaries around the globe

Stopping the supply of whales and dolphins to captive facilities

  • Stopping airlines transporting whales and dolphins from Japanese drive hunts to cut the supply of whales and dolphins to parks
  • Pressuring governments to ban the capture of wild whales and dolphins for display
  • Exposing welfare issues and cruelty associated with breeding in captivity

Ending demand for whale and dolphins shows

  • Campaigning to stop tour operators and cruise companies promoting trips to shows
  • Working with local groups and individuals in countries where new facilities are planned, to raise awareness, change attitudes and stop the development of such facilities

Stop whaling

Over 1,500 whales, and even more dolphins, are killed in hunts every year.

And the whalers make no secret of wanting to kill more.

WDC is determined that this won’t happen and, for over three decades, we have successfully fought to defend the international moratorium on whaling against those who would overturn it.

Our focus is on:

Fighting to stop whaling and dolphin hunting in Europe, Japan and around the world

  • Taking part in international meetings like the International Whaling Commission to stop commercial whaling operations and put the protection and conservation of all whales and dolphins on the top of government agendas
  • Cutting supply routes by calling on the EU to ban the transit of whale meat through its ports
  • Urging the EU to include whaling in any trade talks with Japan
  • Continuing to expose illegal sales of whale meat and have these operations shut down
Japanese whaler with harpoon hunting minke whales

Reducing demand for whale meat

  • Persuading tourists not to eat whale meat in places like Iceland and Norway
  • Educating communities about the health risks of eating whale meat

Promoting whale watching as a sustainable alternative

  • Helping communities set up whale watching operations as a way of generating income rather than by killing whales

Create healthy seas

Humpback whale in Antarctica

Water covers over 70% of the world’s surface, yet only a tiny percentage is ‘protected.’ And the threats of commercial fishing, plastics and pollution are combining to make the whole ocean unsafe.

Most countries are signed on to an agreement calling for at least 10% of the ocean’s surface to be protected by 2020. But if we’re going to save the whale, we need to work toward the IUCN target of 30%.

It’s an ambitious target, but it would benefit lots of species, not just whales and dolphins, iand that includes human-kind.

In recent years we have successfully lobbied the Scottish government to double the number of marine protected areas (MPAs) for whales and dolphins and successfully lobbied the US government to increase protective measures for right whales, including expanding protected habitat by 40,000 sq. miles.

Our focus now is on:

Working with local communities to locate and maintain protected areas

  • From the endemic dolphin populations of South America to the resident orca families in the US, Canadian and Russian North Pacific, we are constantly working at a local level for effective habitat protection
  • Reducing whale deaths from ship strikes off the north-east coast of the US

Working with international bodies and governments to designate protected areas in the places whales and dolphins need them most

  • Our work led to the formal recognition of a rare feeding and breeding spot for blue whales (the Costa Rica Thermal Dome) as a biologically significant area. We are now working with local conservation group, MarViva, in Costa Rica to create permanent protection there
  • Getting the New Zealand government to increase protection for endangered maui and hectors dolphins
  • Campaigning for marine protected areas (MPAs) – nature reserves where whales and dolphins are safe from harmful activities
  • Achieving MPAs in EU waters, with particular focus on harbour porpoises, minke whales and Risso's dolphins
  • Achieving an MPA for river dolphins in Latin America

Carrying out scientific work to help design protected areas

  • We identified harbour porpoise habitats, prepared detailed background reports and petitioned the governments of Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales to better protect porpoises that live in the seas around the UK. The governments listened and six protected areas, amongst them the largest protected area for harbour porpoises in Europe, are now in process of designation around the UK

Fighting plastic and pollution – we are working with people like you to show governments and companies that we can reduce pollution and live with less plastic.

Prevent deaths in nets

No one really knows the full extent of the numbers of whales and dolphins dying in nets. It is a hugely under-reported problem. The most recent estimates suggest hundreds of thousands. It’s threatening huge numbers, and several vulnerable species.

WDC has helped ban -or change - damaging fishing practices that can kill whales and dolphins.

Our focus now is on:

Working with governments to ensure laws are toughened up to stop dolphins, porpoises and whales dying in fishing nets and gear

  • Campaigning for strong national UK laws to stop deaths in fishing gear in UK waters after Brexit
  • Working within the EU to strengthen protection measures in Europe and hold countries to account
  • Pushing for better monitoring on-board fishing vessels
  • Representing whales and porpoises on federally appointed US task forces

Teaming up with scientists and fishers to find safer fishing methods

  • Supporting scientists to find solutions and technologies, like pingers, to help porpoises detect and avoid nets
  • Collaborating with fishers to help them avoid entanglements
Minke whale

Fighting to save species on the brink

  • Petitioning the US and Canadian governments to protect the critically endangered North Atlantic right whales
  • Working in New Zealand to save the Maui and Hector’s dolphins who are facing extinction because of entanglement

Why all of this this work is so important

Whales and dolphins are remarkable. But why are they so important? Why do we need to end captivity, stop whaling, prevent deaths in fishing gear, and protect their homes, the oceans and rivers of the world? What is so special about whales and dolphins?

1. Whales and dolphins are incredible.

Like us, whales and dolphins are intelligent beings, capable of feeling joy and suffering pain.  Like us, they live in complex social groups, pass on culture through generations, engage in play and even grieve the loss of family and friends. Understanding and appreciating this social complexity is essential to ensure that whale and dolphin populations not only survive, but thrive.

In recent years we have helped developed a declaration on rights for whales and dolphins and promoted the science of culture at international fora; embedding the idea of conservation measures based on unique cultures as well as population size. We are working to:

Establish the recognition of whale and dolphin cultures into global and local conservation policy.

2. We need to save whales to save the planet.

Planet Earth needs healthy oceans. Whales play a vital role in the marine ecosystem where they help provide up to 50% of our oxygen and combat climate change. When they die their bodies sink to the seabed, taking huge amounts of carbon with them. We need to restore their ocean environment and allow populations to recover to levels that existed before industrial scale whaling and fishing devastated the oceans. These reasons are at the heart of WDC. We are working to:

Integrate the ecological role of  whales and dolphins into global policies on biodiversity, climate change, environment, conservation, fisheries and MPAs (Marine Protected Areas).

Adults Breaching 1_0915_Charlie Phillips