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Credit: Seacoast Science Center

The Unlikely Adventure of Shoebert, a Young Grey Seal Who Visited an Industrial Park Pond

Credit: Seacoast Science Center In mid-September, our stranding partners in northern Massachusetts were inundated with...
Leaping harbour porpoise

The power of harbour porpoise poo

We know we need to save the whale to save the world. Now we are...
Right whale - Regina WDC

Whale and Dolphin Conservation: Change Through Policy.

WDC focuses on education, research, conservation projects, and policy work to create a sustainable future...
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Clear WDC’s Amazon Wishlist for Giving Tuesday

UPDATE: We are thrilled to report that everything was donated off of our Amazon Wishlist...
Fin whales are targeted by Icelandic whalers

Speaking truth to power – my week giving whales a voice

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting is where governments come together to make decisions about whaling...
The Codfather being good with Anvil kick feeding right next to them_0761 branded

Spout Spotters: Boater Safety Around Whales Online Course Launches

After countless hours behind the computer, bountiful snacks, and a few stress relieving walks with...
WDC team at UN Ocean conference

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...

WDC responds to recent publication

A recent essay published by Dr. Michael Moore in ICES Journal of Marine Science, chronicles the horrendous suffering experienced by large whales which become entangled in fishing gear.  The graphic image of a dead critically endangered North Atlantic right whale that was “dissected” by gillnet gear while it was still alive, is horrific.  But the image does not adequately depict the five months of suffering the whale experienced until its agonizing, and, undoubtedly, welcomed demise.  With fewer than 500 North Atlantic right whales remaining, entanglement remains a serious threat to continued survival of this species.  Research indicates that 82.9% of North Atlantic right whales have been entangled at least once and 59% have been entangled multiple times. According to Dr. Moore, these data suggest that right whales are more frequently restrained than animals in a zoo which certainly puts this issue in perspective.  

Yet it is the perspective of comparing commercial whaling for profit (“commercial whaling”) to entanglement (“whaling by default”) that clouds these significant issues.   Dr. Moore refers to the Oxford English Dictionary definition of whaling as “the action, practice or business of catching whale.”  The fundamental premise in using this definition is to include all human related mortalities of whales under one umbrella.  A premise similar to arguments we have made to the International Whaling Commission as to why they should be addressing ship strikes and fisheries bycatch. However, Dr. Moore’s statement that “(T)he idea that individuals should judge  another nation’s motivations and methods of killing whales, struck and strikes me as being far from clear ethically”  suggests that we cannot criticize one ‘evil’, if another ‘evil’, closer to home, exists.

We should not ever excuse the fisheries by catch welfare issues, and WDC is one of the few organizations’ that has published on this issue.  We commend Dr. Moore for raising its profile in his essay but there is an order of ethical judgment. Combining directed takes (commercial and ‘scientific’ whaling) with elected takes (placing nets where we know by catch will happen) and incidental takes (accidental, where we did not perceive a risk) implies an equivalence to these issues creating a false “ethical” economy.