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Spout Spotters: Boater Safety Around Whales Online Course Launches

After countless hours behind the computer, bountiful snacks, and a few stress relieving walks with...
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Give the ocean a chance – our message from the UN Ocean Conference

I'm looking out over the River Tejo in Lisbon, Portugal, reflecting on the astounding resilience...
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Stream to Sea: Orca Action Month 2022

This June was an exceptionally busy and exciting Orca Month, starting with a somewhat surprising...
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Whales are our climate allies – meet the scientists busy proving it

At Whale and Dolphin Conservation, we're working hard to bring whales and the ocean into...

It’s Time To Breach The Snake River Dams

The Snake River dams were controversial even before they were built.  While they were still...
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Climate giants – how whales can help save the world

We know that whales, dolphins, and porpoises are amazing beings with complex social and family...
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Five Facts About Orcas

Orcas, also known as killer whales, are one of the most recognizable and popular species...
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Meet the 2022 Interns: Alexi Archer

I am thrilled to welcome Alexi to WDC as the newest member of our Marine...

WDC Boycotts Federally Mandated Harbor Porpoise Meeting

WDC was among the “no-shows” at last week’s Harbor Porpoise Take Reduction Team meeting in Providence, Rhode Island. Some conservationists as well as the entire delegation of experts from the science and academic community chose to “boycott” this meeting.  The issue? A decision made by John Bullard, the Northeast Regional Administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service. Bullard’s fall decision allowed fishing in an area that his Agency’s regulations had mandated for a two month closure despite evidence of the increasing number of harbor porpoises killed as a result of the fishing industry’s low compliance with fishing federal regulations designed to reduce mortality.  Affordable acoustic “pingers” have been shown to reduce mortality of porpoises by up to 90% and they are required for use in New England during much of the time when porpoises are in the area in greatest numbers.  There has been a federal mandate to use these “pingers” since 1998.  But compliance with the mandate has recently slipped badly. 

The Harbor Porpoise Take Reduction Team is a federally appointed group of scientists, conservationists, fishermen, and state and federal agency representatives mandated by the Marine Mammal Protection Act to develop plans to reduce marine mammal bycatch in specific fisheries when the operation of the fishery results in high levels of mortality.  In 2008, the Team, including members of the fisheries, agreed that if compliance with fishing regulations mandating pinger use was not adequate, mandatory “consequence” closures would be put in place for short periods in specific locations to protect the porpoises.  As a result of increasing numbers of harbor porpoises being killed in the past several years, and only 41% of the fishery complying with regulations, fishermen were notified in March of this year that areas off Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine would be closed to fishing in October and November, a time when harbor porpoise deaths were so high that even if no additional mortality occurred, the numbers were still too high to not harm the population.