WDC Aims and Objectives
Whales and dolphins face huge challenges over the coming years but WDC is determined to fight for them wherever and whenever we can. To use our time and your donations most efficiently and effectively, we’re making sure we focus our expertise and passion on the most important areas and where we believe we can make the biggest difference.
With your help, we’re focusing on the following programs.
Goal: to reduce the numbers held in captivity and develop sanctuaries, or release programs, for those held.
Over 3,000 whales and dolphins remain in tanks. But the tide is turning. People like you are choosing to see whales and dolphins responsibly in the wild, not in captivity, and supporting WDC's work to end aptive display once and for all.
In recent years we have campaigned for travel companies to stop selling trips to SeaWorld and other aquaria and asked the public to Pledge Never to Plunge in swim-with-dolphin programs. With our partners, we prevented the transfer of wild caught belugas into the US. We have also helped prevent the opening of new aquaria and even a total captivity ban in India, Croatia, Slovenia and other countries.
Our focus now is on:
Creating sea sanctuaries where whales and dolphins can be relocated to live more natural lives, if they cannot be returned to the wild
- Working with Merlin Entertainments on a Sanctuary to retire captive belugas to a natural sea pen
- Providing expert advice on other potential sanctuaries around the globe
Stopping the supply of whales and dolphins to captive facilities
- Stopping airlines transporting whales and dolphins from Japanese drive hunts to cut the supply of whales and dolphins to parks
- Pressuring governments to ban the capture of wild whales and dolphins for display
- Exposing welfare issues and cruelty associated with breeding in captivity
Ending demand for whale and dolphins shows
- Campaigning to stop tour operators and cruise companies promoting trips to shows
- Working with local groups and individuals in countries where new facilities are planned, to raise awareness, change attitudes and stop the development of such facilities
Goal: To reduce the number of countries whaling and the number of whales killed.
Over 1,500 whales are hunted each year. Many more dolphins are also killed in hunts. With whalers wanting to increase their quota, WDC is determined to not let this happen.
We’ve helped stop all attempts tomove the moratorium on commercial whaling. Now it’s time to end it once and for all. In recent years we have stopped illegal exports of whale meat from Iceland to Japan and helped reduce consumption of whale meat in Iceland- by both Icelanders and tourists.
Our focus now is on:
Fighting to stop whaling and dolphin hunting
- Taking part in international meetings such as the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to stop commercial whaling operations and put the protection and conservation of all whales and dolphins on the top of government agendas
- Cutting supply routes by calling on the EU to ban the transit of whale meat through its ports
- Urging the US government to continue to support the global whaling moratorium
- Continuing to expose illegal sales of whale meat and have these operations shut down
Reducing demand for whale meat
- Persuading tourists not to eat whale meat in places like Iceland and Norway
- Educating communities about the health risks of eating whale meat
Educating communities about whale watching as an alternative
- Helping communities set up responsible whale watching operations, enabling whales to provide both an ecological and economic benefit to local communities.
Create healthy seas
Goal: To protect whales and dolphins by protecting the places where they live.
Water covers over 70% of the world’s surface, yet only a tiny percentage is ‘protected.’ The threats of vessel strikes, entanglements in fishing gear, the accidental ingestion of marine debris, and exposure to noise and chemical pollution are combining to make the whole ocean unsafe for whales and dolphins.
In January of 2018, the United Nations called for at least 10% of the high seas to be protected by 2020. However, if we’re going to save whales, we need to work toward the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) target of 30%.
It’s an ambitious target, but it would benefit many species, not just whales and dolphins, including human-kind.
In recent years, we have successfully lobbied the Scottish government to double the number of marine protected areas (MPAs) for whales and dolphins and successfully lobbied the US government to increase protective measures for North Atlantic right whales, including expanding federally designated critical habitat by 40,000 sq. miles.
Our focus now is on:
Working with local communities to locate and maintain protected areas
- From the endemic dolphin populations of South America to the resident orca families in the US, Canada and Russia, we are constantly working at a local level for effective habitat protection.
- Reducing whale deaths from ship strikes off the north-east coast of the US. We have reduced the risk of fatal vessel strikes to right whales by up to 90%.
Working with international bodies and governments to designate protected areas in the places whales and dolphins need them most
- Our work led to the formal recognition of a rare feeding and breeding spot for blue whales (the Costa Rica Thermal Dome) as a biologically significant area. We are now working with local conservation group, MarViva, in Costa Rica to create permanent protection.
- Persuading the New Zealand government to increase protection for endangered Maui and Hector's dolphins
- With our partners, we are working to increase federally designated critical habitat for endangered Southern Resident orcas
- Taking an ecosystem approach, we are working to restore the habitats and populations of the endangered salmon on which Southern Resident orcas depend.
- Campaigning for marine protected areas (MPAs) – nature reserves where whales and dolphins are safe from harmful activities
- Achieving an MPA for river dolphins in Latin America
Carrying out scientific work to help design protected areas
- We identified harbor porpoise habitats, prepared detailed background reports and petiioned the governments of Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales to better protect porpoises that live in the seas around the UK. The governments listened and six protected areas, among them the largest protected area for harbor porpoises in Europe, are now in process of designation around the UK
- Fighting plastic and pollution – During our surveys, we routinely retrieve surface marine debris which can accidentally be ingested by whales and dolphins
- Our office aims to operate as sustainably as possible and we work with whale watch companies to implement recycling programs.
- We are working with people like you to show governments and companies that we can reduce pollution and live with less plastic.
Prevent deaths in fishing gear
To reduce the number of whale and dolphins accidentally killed and injured through entanglement in fishing gear.
No one really knows the full extent of the numbers of whales and dolphins becoming accidentally entangled in fishing gear, but the most recent estimates suggest hundreds of thousands of whales, dolphins, and porpoises die annually as a result. For some species, it is a limiting factor in their recovery.
As a federally appointed member of Take Reduction Teams, task forces designed to reduce bycatch, WDC works with federal and state regulators, scientists, and members of the fishing community to reduce this threat.
Our focus now is on:
Teaming up with scientists and fishermen to find safer fishing methods
- Working as part of a collaborative to test fixed fishing gear that does not use vertical/buoy lines
- Supporting scientists to find solutions and technologies, like pingers, to help porpoises detect and avoid nets
- Collaborating with fishermen to help them avoid entanglements and report accidental entanglements when they do occur
Fighting to save species on the brink
- Calling for the US and Canadian governments to protect the critically endangered North Atlantic right whales
- Working in New Zealand to save the Maui and Hector’s dolphins who are facing extinction because accidental bycatch
- Increasing our boater outreach to train more vessel operators to spot and report entangled whales.
Why all of this this work is so important: Culture and the ecological whale
Whales and dolphins are remarkable. But why are they so important? Why do we need to end captivity, stop whaling, prevent deaths in fishing gear, and create healthy seas? What is so special about whales and dolphins?
1. We need to save whales to save the planet.
Planet Earth needs a healthy ocean. To create a healthy ocean, we need whales who act as the ocean’s gardeners bringing life-giving nutrients to the phytoplankton who provide half our oxygen, sustain our fish stocks, and sequester carbon, fighting climate change. It is not enough to conserve a vulnerable species. We need to restore their ocean environment and allow populations not only to survive, but to thrive. By recovering whale populations to levels that existed before industrial scale whaling, we can help make the planet healthier. These reasons are at the heart of WDC. We are working to:
Integrate the ecological role of whales and dolphins into global policies on biodiversity, climate change, environment, conservation, fisheries, and MPAs (Marine Protected Areas).
2. Whales and dolphins are incredible.
Like us, whales and dolphins are intelligent beings, capable of feeling joy and suffering pain. Like us, they live in complex social groups, pass on culture through generations, engage in play and even grieve the loss of family and friends. Understanding and appreciating this social complexity is essential to ensure that whale and dolphin populations not only survive, but thrive.