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The Whales Working Group works to ensure better protection of cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) through the reform of the International Whaling Commission into a conservation body, and by addressing other issues relating to cetacean conservation and welfare both in the UK and globally, such as marine contaminants, bycatch and disturbance.

Chair: Jennifer Lonsdale, Environmental Investigation Agency
Vice Chair: Mark Simmonds, Humane Society International-UK
Marine Policy and Campaigns Manager: James Luetchford, Link

Update from the Group

The Whales Working Group has initiated new work on cetacean bycatch in EU and UK waters. It continues ongoing initiatives relating to whale, dolphin and porpoise conservation and welfare. The Group maintains good communications with Dr Gemma Harper, the UK Commissioner to the International Whaling Commission (IWC), on the work of the Commission and related issues. Most recently, two members of the Group joined the UK Government’s delegation to the meeting of the IWC’s Scientific Committee, which met in May.

In March the Group called on the Minister, George Eustice, to step up representations to the Mexican Government to save the critically endangered vaquita porpoise (pictured), and to guarantee secure funding to continue the invaluable work of the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP). Stranding due to a range of factors, including bycatch, is an ongoing threat to cetacean populations; this was stressed in a further Link letter to the Minister calling for more transparent and usable data on regional fishing effort in an bid to better understand what drives these events.

The Group is also progressing activities to help mitigate the effects of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination on marine mammals. This includes responding to a Defra consultation on the UK approach to eliminating Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) more generally, as well as providing briefing to Defra for use at a recent meeting of the Stockholm Convention in Geneva. Members of the PCBs subgroup are due to meet with Defra at the end of June to discuss the outcome of these discussions, as well as EU progress on tackling both open and closed sources of these harmful chemicals.

For further information, contact James Luetchford, Link’s Marine Policy and Campaigns Manager.

Last updated: 31 May 2017.