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Happy Trash-tober!

To celebrate spooky season, our WDC North America team decided to do our part to...
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Join WDC for STEM Week 2021!

Hey! Join me and Whale & Dolphin Conservation for STEM Week 2021! If you're interested...
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Faroe Islands whale and dolphin slaughter – what have we done and what are we doing?

The massacre of 1,428 Atlantic white-sided dolphins at Skálafjørður on the Faroe Islands on 12th...
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Orcas, sea lions, and viral videos

"What do I do?!" You may have seen the latest viral animal video involving a...
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The horror – reflecting on the massacre of 1,428 dolphins on the Faroe Islands

Like you and millions of people around the globe, I felt horrified by the news...
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Meet the 2021 WDC Interns!

Every spring and summer, we get to open up our office to interns from all...
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Orca Month 2021 – We are Family

We have come to the end of another amazing Orca Action Month, and for the...
Text says "Does social and racial justice have a place in saving whales? Then below that is a simple drawing of a humpback whale and to the right of the whale, white text says "Yes, it does." In small text, whales.org is at the bottom.

Does social and racial justice have a place in saving whales?

The short answer is YES. The planet needs whales and whales need us, ALL of...

Ship of shame!

I’ve spent the past week, along with a few other die-hards, poring over marine traffic websites looking for the Alma. Last Friday, 21st March, I reported that she left  Hafnafjordur harbour, south of Reykjavik,  laden with 2,000 tonnes of frozen fin whale meat.  As soon as she was about 100 nautical miles south of Iceland, the Alma abruptly dropped off the radar, giving rise to speculation that she might have turned her tracking system off.  

A few frustrating days passed but then, bingo!, she popped back onto our radar, this time off Portugal and then again off the Canaries.  Suddenly, we had her, quite literally, back in our sights.  As I write, she is several hundred miles south of the Canaries, off the coast of Western Sahara.

From there, we can only speculate her exact route. Can this 98 metre reefer get all the way to Japan – making the mammoth sea voyage around the Cape of Good Hope and through the Indian Ocean, via Malaysia and Hong Kong – or will she need to refuel (on the high seas or at port?), or transfer her cargo to another vessel for the onward journey?  Certainly there are ports – and vessels – along the length of the African coast that may offer safe haven or support to the Alma. Places with history when it comes to dealing with controversial cargoes such as Alma’s.

This is the part I struggle with – whilst most of the world regards a vessel laden with whale meat stealing its way down the coast of Africa like a thief in the night (as one Icelandic blogger aptly put it) as a pariah, the fact is that the Alma’s mission is entirely legal, providing her paperwork is in order.  Iceland and Japan have both taken out reservations against the listing of fin whales under Appendix 1 of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) and therefore can legally trade this endangered species with each other.  This, of course, is outrageous and WDC is already looking hard at what can be done to close this loophole.

Meantime, the Alma heads steadily south, her hold full of dead whale and, it would appear from her Category X rating, she’s also carrying ‘noxious liquid substances’ which the IMO deems pose a major threat to human health or to the marine environment. A nasty shipment then, top to bottom.

And a needless one, at least as far as the whale meat goes – even the Icelandic media has carried reports in recent days suggesting that demand for whale meat in Japan is declining even as stockpiles increase. Indeed, Japan’s ‘whale mountain’, at around 4,600 tonnes, is almost double that of a decade ago.  

Which of course begs the question: why on earth undertake this fool’s errand in the first place? Over to you Mr Loftsson. Seems it’s not just the Alma who is all at sea.