IUCN Press release: Whales & dolphins need more protected areas

For more information, review copies or to set up interviews, please contact: Ewa Magiera, IUCN Media Relations, t +41 22 999 0346, m +41 76 505 33 78, ewa.magiera@iucn.org

For immediate release: September 5, 2011

Whales & dolphins need more protected areas

Background: A new book, Marine Protected Areas for Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises is released, calling for accelerated efforts to conserve marine mammals by protecting a greater area of the ocean. Currently only 1.3% of the ocean is protected but many new Marine Protected Areas are being created. Erich Hoyt, the book’s author and IUCN’s cetacean specialist, examines current and future developments in ocean protection. The book is a key resource for cetacean scientists and managers of Marine Protected Areas. Since most of these areas promote whale and dolphin watching and marine ecotourism, the book is also useful for finding some of the best places to spot the 87 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises in 125 countries and territories around the world. The book is published by Earthscan / Taylor & Francis and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society.

Key Issues:

  • The need for greater protection: “Marine protected areas are steadily getting bigger which is good news for large marine predators with big habitats,” says Carl Gustaf Lundin, Director, IUCN Global Marine and Polar Programme. “However, most of them are still too small, too few and far between, with too little enforcement to adequately protect whale and other highly mobile marine animal habitats.”
  • Growing threats: “At least 300,000 whales and dolphins a year end up dead in fishing nets alone, as so-called by-catch,” says Erich Hoyt, author, member of IUCN’s Species Survival Commission’s Cetacean Specialist Group and the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas. “Whales in some areas have been found to be emaciated. And scarcely a year since the BP Gulf Oil disaster, it’s business as usual in large parts of the Gulf and elsewhere.”
  • Protecting the high seas: “To safeguard critical ocean ecosystems and highly mobile species, we need to set aside more untouched ocean wilderness areas in the high seas,” says Patricio Bernal, Coordinator, Western Gray Whale Conservation Project. “Outside of national jurisdiction, the high seas contain only a handful of protected areas. Without effective protection this huge area, which is equivalent to 64% of the ocean’s surface, will continue to be heavily exploited in the next few years.”

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