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This dead right whale calf had injuries consistent with a vessel strike, including fresh propeller cuts on its back and head, broken ribs, and bruising. Photo: FWC/Tucker Joenz, NOAA Fisheries permit #18786

Emergency Right Whale Petition Seeks Overdue Protections From Vessel Strikes

This dead right whale calf had injuries consistent with a vessel strike, including fresh propeller...
Dolphins with oil rig

Go ahead for new UK oil and gas exploration threatens whales and dolphins

Permission has been granted for the development of the UK's biggest untapped oilfield off Shetland,...
Icelandic hunting vessels in port

Whaling boat kept in port after more hunt cruelty exposed

Icelandic whale hunting fleet One of the whaling boats involved in the latest hunts in...
Commerson's dolphin

New Important Marine Mammal Areas added to global ocean conservation list

Commerson's dolphin Experts from a number of countries have mapped out a new set of...
All policy news
  • All policy news
  • Create healthy seas
  • End captivity
  • Prevent bycatch
  • Prevent deaths in nets
  • Stop whaling
  • Strandings

Whale culture should play a part in their conservation says new international study

An international group of researchers working on a wide range of species, including whales, argues...

No change in Norway whaling quota as number of whales to be killed remains high

Norway’s Minister of Fisheries has announced that the country has set itself the same number...

Preparations for beluga whale move to Iceland continue

Ahead of the relocation of Little White and Little Grey to the world’s first open...
Photo taken by Sea to Shore Alliance under NOAA Permit #15488

Senate Leaders Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Save the North Atlantic Right Whale

After a deadly summer for North Atlantic right whales, Senators Booker (D-NJ), Isakson (R-GA) and...

Norway’s whaling future uncertain after survey shows little domestic appetite for whale meat

The future of Norway’s whaling industry appears to be in serious doubt as it struggles...

Moving in the wrong direction: new application would bring belugas to US marine parks

Earlier this year, WDC celebrated the passage of a landmark law to ban whale and...

Financial worth of whales revealed
Two beautiful Hector's dolphins leap just off new Zealand's coast. © Mike Bossley

Significant Victory for WDC in Fight to Save World’s Smallest Dolphins

A significant victory in the fight to save dolphins in New Zealand from extinction! This...
Orcas are crammed together in sickening conditions

Russian Citizens Call For Action to Prevent Another Whale Jail

Reports from inside Russia have revealed more than 100,000 petition signers have raised their objections...
Fin whale

Positive whaling news emerges from Iceland

News is emerging from Iceland that the company behind Iceland’s fin whale hunts, Hvalur hf,...

WDC funded research shows ‘pingers’ could save porpoises from fishing nets

Underwater sound devices called ‘pingers’ could be an effective, long-term way to prevent porpoises getting...

WDC scientists join call for global action to protect whales and dolphins from extinction

Scientists from Whale and Dolphin Conservation, along with over 250 other experts from 40 countries,...

West Coast Humpback Whales Face “Perfect Storm” as Risk of Accidental Entanglements Increase

Scylla open mouth feeding

Accidental entanglement in fishing gear is one of the biggest global threats to whales and dolphinsOff all coasts of the U.S., entanglement is growing issue, especially for endangered populations of whales

In the Pacific Ocean off the West Coast, entanglements have increased significantly since 2013 and reached record levels compared to the historic average The combination of shifting ocean conditions driven by climate change and the overlap of whale feeding areas and fishing grounds has created sort of a “perfect storm” for entanglement risk.  

As we learn more about humpback whale populations in the Pacific, addressing this threat becomes even more important.  Although humpback whales are generally a success story of protective laws like the Endangered Species Act, some populations – including two distinct groups that spend a lot of time off the West Coast – are still endangered and struggling to recover.  In addition, even healthy populations are now facing new threats from climate change, which can make them more vulnerable to entanglement and ship strikes.  

 This has introduced new challenges for the agencies that manage fishing activities.  New solutions and regulations are being developed to reduce the risk to whales and safeguard the fragile growth of some populations and support the recovery of ones that are still endangered.  Unfortunately, West Coast states have been slow to create and implement these new regulations, and entanglements have continued at high levels – in fact, 28 entanglements were confirmed off the U.S. West Coast in 2022 alone. 

Humpback whale inverted lob tailing

Support WDC's work to end entanglements

WDC has spent several years providing input to agencies in West Coast states and is an appointed member of the newly created Oregon Entanglement Advisory Committee.  As measures to reduce entanglement risk continue to evolve, WDC will use our expertise to review proposed regulations, assess available scientific information, and advocate for the best solutions for whales and other marine life. 

For example, the state of Oregon is currently reviewing temporary regulations that were enacted in 2020 and creating new, more long-term rules to reduce entanglement risk in the commercial Dungeness crab fishery.  In a meeting earlier this year, WDC and other members of the Advisory Committee had an opportunity to review the results of the temporary regulations and the proposed next steps.  Based on that discussion, we are providing input as the new regulations are developed and advocating for more analysis of potential measures, additional public review, and more dynamic rules that can adapt to the presence of whales off the Oregon coast.  

While some tried-and-true measures are known to reduce entanglement risk – any action that decreases the chance that whales and fishing gear are in the same area at the same time – the innovative technique of on-demand fishing may allow whales and fishing activity to more safely coexist.  Testing is underway in the U.S. East Coast and Canada, but the West Coast is lagging in support and development of this modern fishing technology.  In addition to stronger measures to protect whales from entanglement in fishing gear now, West Coast states need to support fishers in testing and further developing on-demand fishing gear to ensure a healthy future for fishing and whales. 

If you believe in a world where every whale and dolphin is safe and free, please donate to support this important work.

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