Whales, dolphins and porpoises

If you think the whales have been saved, guess again. The international moratorium on commercial whaling is one of the greatest conservation successes of the 20th century but some countries have defied it to continue the practice. We campaign to keep the ban in place and challenge countries that defy it, to expose the exploitation of species the ban does not cover, and to drive action to address other threats to whales, dolphins and porpoises such as climate change, pollution and by-catch.

The problem

As ocean sentinels, whales, dolphins and porpoises (collectively termed ‘cetaceans’) face unprecedented and growing threats from human activities including marine debris and plastic pollution, climate change, noise, chemical pollution and industrial fishing.

The whaling industry killed 2.9 million whales in the 20th century. In 1982, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) agreed a moratorium on commercial whaling to come onto force from 1986, a momentous decision that undoubtedly saved several species from extinction.

Despite the success of the moratorium, Japan, Norway and Iceland have continued commercial whaling and international trade in whale products – as well as mounting relentless pressure on the IWC to overturn the whaling ban. In December 2018, Japan announced it would leave the IWC to commence commercial whaling outside the organisation’s jurisdiction from July 2019.

  • 3,500

    Our campaigning convinced 3,500 supermarkets and online retailers

    to stop selling and marketing cetacean products
  • Over 30 years

    For over three decades we've campaigned the IWC and have been instrumental in

    expanding the IWC's work to address these threats
  • Investigations

    Our investigations into Icelandic whaling resulted in numerous companies

    ceasing their association with the whalers

Moving forward

We are campaigning to maintain and strengthen the moratorium on commercial whaling and broaden action within the IWC to address the severe threats to cetaceans and marine ecosystems posed by human activities. We promote the positive benefits of supporting the organisation’s conservation work to governments around the world, working with local partners to challenge support for whaling within the IWC.

We are challenging Japan’s ‘pirate whaling’ through coordinating international opposition and weakening the market for cetacean products through deploying market-based strategies. Working collaboratively with NGO partners, we are calling on Iceland to end its commercial whaling operations, pushing the government to review its policy and challenging sea food supply chains with links to the whaling industry.