Conservationists call on nations to protect cetacean populations as climate change opens up new areas of the Arctic
Conservationists on Tuesday appealed to countries to urgently address new threats to whales, dolphins and other cetaceans as climate change opens up previously inaccessible areas of the Arctic and industries move in to new areas.
As emotional arguments broke out in the annual International Whaling Commission’s (IWC) conference between pro- and anti-whaling nations over the right of small, indigenous groups to hunt a few whales each year, WWF appealed to countries to better regulate fishing and stop the oil and gas industries devastating populations.
“A few thousand whales are killed each year because of whaling but 300,000 whales, dolphins and other cetaceans are killed just in fishing gear. Now the greater threat is from the oil and gas industries. Cetaceans have so far been lucky because the Arctic has been mostly inaccessible but as climate change develops new areas are opening up. These are some of the most important areas left for whales and cetaceans,” said Wendy Eliott, head of the WWF delegation to the meeting in Panama.
“It is essential these issues are addressed by the IWC. But whaling governments like Norway, Iceland and Japan refuse to acknowledge the conservation committee of the IWC and do not participate.”