I wanted to take this opportunity to wish you, wherever you are in the world, a very happy Christmas, and to pass on our best wishes for the New Year from all at WDCS.
The past year has been one of challenges and successes. Despite a global economic turn down your continued support has meant the difference for thousands of whales and dolphins around the globe. From the jungles of the Amazon to the ice flows of the Arctic, there are whale and dolphins that owe you their survival.
Unfortunately, recession has meant that people cannot always be as generous as they have in the past, but also that Governments have been cutting back on their own conservation work and, at the same time, opponents of conservation have been arguing that 'in these times of pressing need governments should concentrate their resources on people, and biodiversity will have to take a back seat'. Others have even tried arguing that governments should only be concentrating on climate change mitigation measures, when instead the answers lie in moderating our use of carbon and building sustainable futures together.
Climate change is desperately in need of a solution. Whilst Copenhagen did not fulfill everything we hoped for, maybe it's a first step on the road to a fundamental solution.
However, expediting offshore renewables such as wind-farms without taking into consideration the impacts on cetaceans makes a mockery of our recent campaigns, for example, to stop oil and gas and military activities in the Moray Firth. You helped us win those campaigns, and demonstrated in doing so that the protection of biodiversity is paramount in helping to create a sustainable future for us all.
So instead of abandoning the protection of biodiversity we should remind our democratically accountable governments that there is a reason why people believe these creatures are worthy of strict protection. Some twenty years ago WDCS published a pivotal report on the ethics of whales and their protection entitled 'Why Whales'. This report explored the ethical, conservation and welfare arguments for protecting whales; it asked the question why? What is so special about this group of animals that inspires awe, appreciation and a desire to help and to protect? It helped drive forward the ethical debate of why whaling was wrong and why these remarkable creatures were held up as special the world over.
Since the publication of the report these arguments have evolved, along with the science that underpins them. The reasons to give this group of animals special consideration are more pressing today than they were even ten or twenty years ago.
The Earth's oceans continue to be negatively effected by human activities; from noise and chemical pollution, floating fishing nets and plastics, to climate change and ocean acidification, and, sadly, the slaughter of whales and dolphins continues.
Now is a good time to ask these questions again, to reassess what we know, and to ask ourselves Why Whales? This is explored this holiday season on the WDCS website by Philippa Brakes, leader of the WDCS Ethics Programme and is a timely reminder to all of us, as this first decade of the twenty first century comes to a close, of the reasons we are involved in this work.
In the same vein, we remember the plight of Corky, one of the stolen wonders of the ocean; still held at Sea World, but whose plight was a rallying point for many who were motivated to get involved with cetacean conservation.
And it is this fundamental concern for the welfare of the individual and protection of cetacean populations that sets WDCS aside from many other organizations. Yes we have conservation in our title, but we are much more than that, - because we believe whales and dolphins deserve more, much more..
2010 will be another challenging year, but we should not be daunted. We should welcome the further emergent scientific evidence of why we should champion these wonderful creatures and we should build on this to take the debate to the heart of those who would threaten them. Let not recession or misguided governments hold us back; let us together be the voice for whales and dolphins, everywhere.
Together we can achieve remarkable things for these remarkable creatures.
Thank you again for your amazing support,
WDCS Chief Executive
Is national political power plays more important than international agreements. On the eve of the Copenhagen climate talks and in the month after their own health authorities have issued fresh warnings over eating whale meat, the Norwegian Fisheries Ministry has issued massive quota increases for whaling in Norway. Having failed to take more than 500 whales this year, the Norwegian Government has allocated a quota almost two and half times the size of the actual number of whales taken this year - it would appear one part of the Norwegian Government doesn't know, or is disregarding, what another part is saying. Illogical, bad for conservation, bad for Norwegians and bad for Norway politically