Family, friends and long time followers of this blog may remember how it all began when I worked as pretty much the only volunteer for a tiny, mostly unheard of, British organisation called Planet Whale.
Funny how things grow… My own life shooted and branched outwards from there in directions I could never have dreamed or predicted… Compiling a global report on whale and dolphin conservation groups, travelling to live, work and write about three conservationists in Monterey Bay (USA), Lima (Peru) and Grand Manan Island, (Canada) …
Inadvertently meeting and marrying the love of my life… Moving to American shores… And now, just starting to put down new roots and settle into a completely new life.
Well, Planet Whale has been doing its own growing. Staying true to its ethos to inspire and empower all people, to collaborate and bring people into unity, and to be a platform upon which everyone can make a difference, Planet Whale has become an organisation with hundreds of volunteers, a growing collective of responsible whale watch operator partners, hundreds of featured cetacean conservation groups, thousands of people visiting its website to find out more about cetacean watching trips and cetacean conservation, and one big vision becoming a reality.
Planet Whale has just launched the World Cetacean Alliance that brings together the voices of people everywhere plus a consortium of cetacean conservation groups from around the world. But, enough of my words… Here are their words to explain more…
Cousteau launches global alliance to save the whales again!
Charities and businesses from around the world form ‘World Cetacean Alliance’ in an overdue new partnership for whales and dolphins.
In 1982 we thought we had ‘Saved the Whale’ when in Brighton, UK, 42 world governments met at the Hilton hotel and took an historic vote to cease killing whales. Yet today, despite years of campaigning, 1000 of these animals die daily from causes such as fishing by-catch, pollution, plastics, undersea mining, ship strike, whaling, and the captivity trade. Whales and dolphins (collectively known as cetaceans) are in trouble.
Now a group of organisations and dedicated individuals have joined forces to form a new network to represent these charismatic animals and bring together all who fight to protect them.
Jean Michel Cousteau, photo by Carrie Vondehaar, Ocean Futures Society
Led by Honorary President Jean-Michel Cousteau, the World Cetacean Alliance (WCA) launches as a partnership of charities, whale watching businesses and individual advocates from Argentina, Australia, Canada, Germany, Iceland, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, UK, and the USA.
“Without collaboration we will achieve nothing more than a drop in the ocean”, explains ocean explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau, who has campaigned for ocean conservation for decades as an environmentalist, educator, and film producer. Mr Cousteau continued: “The World Cetacean Alliance is a unique opportunity to combine our collective energy, knowledge, and expertise in order to protect whales, dolphins, and their habitats.”
The Alliance believes everybody deserves a say in the important decisions that affect whales and dolphins, and will involve the widest possible stakeholder community, and especially the public, in all of its agreed actions. Even the Alliance’s name was chosen by a public vote.
Hector Dolphins, photo by Steve Dawson, NABU International
WCA Partner Dr Ingrid Visser of the Orca Research Trust explains: “If the public knew that we didn’t already have a global network working together to protect whales and dolphins I think they would be shocked! In the past campaigns have often been disjointed and have typically lacked support from other organisations. As a result they usually have low impact, or fail altogether. The World Cetacean Alliance is our best chance in years to change all that; it’s a very exciting opportunity and we owe it to cetaceans to make it work!”
The Alliance begins with experts and the public mapping their ‘Areas of Concern’for whales and dolphins around the world. This free online survey will identify and map priority issues affecting cetaceans, and each and every person that submits a map will be making a real difference. Every time the public circles an area they are concerned about, that place gets HOTTER. The hotter the place, the more pressure the WCA will be able to apply to get protection in that location.
Injury to Morgan, photo by Ingrid Visser, Orca Research Trust
As part of this the WCA is targeting three locations in need of immediate action. The first is New Zealand, home to the last 55 Maui’s dolphins, the most critically endangered dolphin in the world and threatened by commercial fishing practices. Second is one of the planet’s few remaining wildernesses, Antarctica; where the Ross Sea needs protection from commercial exploitation. Thirdly, the island of Tenerife, where wild orca ‘Morgan’ must be saved from an inhumane life in captivity.
The Alliance faces huge challenges but this does not daunt Dylan Walker of Planet Whale, the organisation that facilitated its creation. Said Mr Walker: “I am proud to be a part of this new network of organizations and individuals with a deep, collective determination to protect whales and dolphins. By working together we know we can achieve so much more than in the past. With a collective focus and a positive outlook, we will turn the tide before it is too late!”