World's whales and dolphins may face growing sonic threat

Posted by Willie — 12 June 2008 at 2:06pm - Comments

A dead dolphin - the victim of bycatch - lying on a beach

In Chile, the world's scientists are already meeting in advance of the 60th International Whaling Commission (IWC), which will be held there in late June. At this time of year, the eyes of the world turn to the deadlocked struggle between pro-conservation and pro-whaling countries as they clash over the future of whaling at the IWC meetings. And recent events have not been going well for the whalers - in recent weeks we have seen just how desperate the pro-whaling nations are to play down not only the recent scandal of stolen whale meat in Japan, but also the saga of exporting whale meat from Iceland and Norway. Both stories highlight the extent to which the whalers are routinely flouting not only international opinion but also the global ban on commercial whaling and the trading of whale meat.

That cetaceans remain in urgent need of our protection was reinforced this week by two shocking news stories: over 100 melon-headed whales stranded themselves on the coast of Madagascar, while closer to home in Cornwall 26 dolphins also died in a stranding event, decribed as the worst ever seen in the UK. The cause of their deaths is officially unknown but it's increasingly likely that these 'mass' strandings may be linked to noise disturbance in the sea, specifically to naval sonar, and seismic testing.

As we exploit ever more of our oceans, we are causing all sorts of harm to the world’s whale, dolphin and porpoise species – from climate change, to food depletion, to being caught in fishing nets. Yet still it is whaling - the one threat we can and should stop immediately - that gets all the attention. Proof, if any were needed, that it’s time for the IWC to move on, and we should not be haggling annually about commercial whaling when the world’s cetaceans are facing so many other threats.

About Willie

Hi, I'm Willie, I work with Greenpeace on all things ocean-related

Twitter: @williemackenzie

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