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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, and continues its 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.

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 the current CoP to the Stockholm Convention in Geneva. A meeting was also convened recently with officials from Defra and the Environment Agency to discuss the latest research findings and present international and domestic policy options for addressing this important issue.

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

Last updated: 28 April 2017.