Conservation of Dolphins
- International Whaling Commission
- Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
- Berne Convention
- Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species
In the past four decades, as public awareness about cetaceans and the
threats against them has increased, organizations dedicated to the
preservation of these creatures have developed. In numerous parts of the
world, international conventions have outlined the threats facing cetaceans
and created regulations to ensure their preservation. Countries have passed
legislation that includes provisions for regulating directed and incidental
takes, as well as habitat destruction, pollution, and disturbance. This
page outlines a few of the organizations and conventions dedicated to the
preservation of cetaceans and other wildlife. The list is by no means
comprehensive, as there are numerous other examples of people's efforts to
counteract the man-made problems facing cetaceans.
International Whaling Commission
The International Whaling Commission (IWC) was created under the
International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling in 1946 in an effort
to regulate whaling. For the first two decades of its existance, it came
under sharp criticism due to its lack of effectiveness. The exploitation of
whales continued almost unabated as both the regulations and their enforcement
were weak. Some called it a "whaler's club," intersted more in stabalizing
the world market than the population of cetaceans.
In the 1970s and 1980s, however, the IWC started instituting far scricter
limits on whaling. In 1974 it adopted a new method of categorizing existing
stocks and applying regulations, called the New Mangement Procedure (NMP). In
1986, all commercial whaling was suspended, and by 1989, all countries
involved observed the restrictions except those involved in scientific
Although the IWC was created initially to protect stocks of the rorqual,
right, and sperm whales, small cetaceans were not specifically excluded from
the Commission's jurisdiction. However, within the organization, there is
little agreement as to whether the IWC should take action to protect them.
Starting in 1972, all parties were required to give information on the direct
and indirect takes on all species of cetacean, but few responded. It does
review the status of different stocks of dolphins and porpoises and compiles
these statistics periodically.
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna
and Flora (CITES) occured on 3 March 1973 and its provisions took effect on 1
July 1975. It regulates international trade of different plant and animal
species, defining international trade as all international movements, whatever
the purpose. Species are listed in three appendices. Appendix I lists those
species threatened with extinction and affected by international trade. 23
species of cetacean are included in this appendix. The provisions require a
special permit from both importing and exporting countries, and no commerical
trade is allowed. Appendix II lists species that may become threatened with
extinction unless trade is regulated. In 1979, all cetaceans not listed in
Appendix I were placed in Appendix II.
The Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural
Habitats, also known as the Berne Convention, took place on 19 September 1979.
Its task was to conserve wild plants and animals, as well as natural
habitats, especially when international cooperation is needed. It includes
four appendices. Appendix I includes strictly protected plants, Appendix II
stores strictly protected animals, including 19 species of cetacean, Appendix
II has protected animals, with all of the remaining species of cetacean, and
Appendix IV stores methods of killing, capturing, or otherwise exploiting that
are banned by the provisions of the convention.
Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species
The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of the Wild (CMS),
otherwise known as the Bonn Convention, protects the populations of cetaceans
located in the North and Baltic Seas. It took place on 23 June 1979 and its
provisions came into force on 1 November 1983. The two appendices include
(I) presently endangered species which need immediate protection and (II)
species for which the current protection is insufficient and which would
benefit from international cooperation and agreements.
Klinowska, Margaret. Dolphins, Porpoises, and Whales of the World: The IUCN Red Data Book. Gland, Switzerland: World Conservation Union, 1991.