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.