Skip to content
All articles
  • All articles
  • About whales & dolphins
  • Create healthy seas
  • End captivity
  • Fundraising
  • Green Whale
  • Prevent bycatch
  • Prevent deaths in nets
  • Stop 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...
65556ab2635fdab7b4e12265b9623d64

Stream to Sea: Orca Action Month 2022

This June was an exceptionally busy and exciting Orca Month, starting with a somewhat surprising...
We need whale poo 📷 WDC NA

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...
Save the whale. Save the world.

Climate giants – how whales can help save the world

We know that whales, dolphins, and porpoises are amazing beings with complex social and family...
Nat Geo for Disney+ Luis Lamar

Five Facts About Orcas

Orcas, also known as killer whales, are one of the most recognizable and popular species...
Alexi Archer cropped

Meet the 2022 Interns: Alexi Archer

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

Bycatch – back on the agenda

You have likely seen in the media that common dolphins are washing ashore, dead, in droves in the southwest of England this winter. Not all of them have been caught in fishing nets accidentally, but some of them have. They are washing ashore elsewhere in the north east Atlantic too, including in large numbers in France and in Ireland


Accidental entanglement in fishing gear is the biggest killer of whales, dolphins and porpoises globally. Around the world, hundreds of thousands of them suffer this horrific death every year.

There are lots of questions. How many die in fishing gear, but don’t wash ashore? How many bodies wash up, but aren’t reported? This recent paper provides some alarming evidence of the scale of our bycatch issue.   

Why does this continue to happen – decades after fisheries bycatch has been identified as being the cause of large numbers of dolphin and porpoise deaths? And importantly, what are we doing about it?

Well, the European Parliament has begun reviewing the measures it has in place to prevent these deaths under the Common Fisheries Policy. We hope that the new policy will be more robust than the one currently in place (more on this another time) – including better monitoring and mitigation, to help us to solve the bycatch issue for common dolphins and for other species. And this is what we are lobbying in Europe for. Whatever comes out of the current EU review is likely to form the basis of future UK / devolved fisheries measures to deal with whale, dolphin and porpoise bycatch.

At the same time, this important paper has been released that reminds us why it is important for management decisions surrounding marine mammals to consider the welfare of the individuals. It also describes the worrying ‘erosion’ of welfare from UK marine conservation policy, providing bycatch and noise pollution examples. 

We need a more compassionate approach to management of our seas and its inhabitants. In conclusion, the paper states that we need “to work together to develop conservation policies and practice based on the best available science (and knowledge, generally). Such a development would, among other things, ensure that animal welfare becomes an integral part of decision-making in modern conservation practice.” I couldn’t agree more.  

You can play your part in helping to stop these needless deaths in UK waters. In the coming weeks, we will be launching a major new campaign. To be first to find out how you can help, sign up to our email newsletter.

Thanks to Blue Planet Society for alerting us to the French and Irish news pieces.