Iberian orca

Update on the attack against the critically endangered Iberian Orca

09.10.23, Cadiz: The organisations, WeWhale Association, Sea Shepherd France, the World Cetacean Alliance and the political party PACMA have filed a report with the relevant authorities regarding a suspected offence against marine fauna in the waters near Tarifa, Cádiz. The incidents occurred on 17 August 2023 and are related to an attack on a group of orcas by the crew of the vessel “NAKULA”, flying the flag of Malaysia.

The report is based on a series of pieces of evidence, including video recordings and photographs taken by eyewitnesses, as well as a post on the social media platform Facebook in which the perpetrator of the acts admits their involvement. Additionally, a geolocation map is attached, pinpointing the exact location of the incident.

The reporting organisations believe that these actions may constitute an offence against marine fauna, as defined in the Penal Code under articles 334.1, 334.2, and 335. According to current legislation, hunting, fishing, acquisition, possession, or destruction of protected species of wild fauna, as well as trafficking in them, their parts or derivatives, and activities that hinder or impede their reproduction or migration, are punishable by imprisonment and fines. The report includes substantial evidence supporting the allegations, such as social media posts and testimonies from eyewitnesses. Furthermore, the authorities are requested to conduct a thorough investigation into the facts and to identify the perpetrators and the owner of the vessel "NAKULA."

The organisations also call for the summons of both the alleged perpetrators and key witnesses to clarify the events and ensure justice in this case.

The report has been filed with the competent authorities, and it is expected that an investigation will be initiated to determine the veracity of the events and to take appropriate measures if the commission of the offence is confirmed. The reporting organisations are committed to the protection of marine fauna and hope that this case serves as an example of the importance of preserving our natural environment and its inhabitants, especially the critically endangered Iberian Orca population, of whom only approximately 40 individuals are left.

President of WeWhale Association, Janek Andre, said, “We are very happy to be joined by Sea Shepherd France, the World Cetacean Alliance and PACMA in filing this report. The incident on 17 August was a very shocking and troubling event and we are working hard to make sure those responsible are brought to justice in the name of the Iberian Orca”.

"We are particularly concerned about the abuses that some sailors are indulging in to keep orcas away from their boats. Iberian killer whales are critically endangered, and while recent interactions may have caused material damage, killer whales in the wild have never attacked a human being, despite what some of the gutter press would have us believe. The urgent task is to understand what attracts them to the rudders and find harmless solutions to deter them. We are counting on Justice to send a strong message to those who would be tempted to attack orcas" declares Lamya Essemlali, President of Sea Shepherd France

CEO of the World Cetacean Alliance, Harry Eckman, said, “All current evidence suggests that orca interactions, like the incident on 17 August, are play behaviour by juvenile orcas. As frustrating as this may be for seafarers, this does not justify the dangerous and reckless events that took place. It is vital that those responsible are held to account for their actions. Orca require our protection and it is our collective responsibility to minimise our impact on their environment.”

We at PACMA regret that these individuals have felt free to harm animals, believing that they would not face any legal consequences, even doing so shamelessly in front of witnesses. On our part, we will make available all the tools at our disposal to ensure that this case reaches its conclusion and that an exemplary sentence is achieved to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Furthermore, the WeWhale Association has established a dedicated website known as "Attacks Against Orcas" (www.attacks-against-orcas.org/) with the aim of providing information on ongoing cases involving reported incidents of aggression towards Orcas (Orcinus orca) by vessels or humans. This platform also enables individuals who witness such attacks to report their observations of aggression against these animals.

International Whaling Commission

WeWhale at the International Whaling Commission Meeting 2022

WeWhale was delighted to be invited as an Observer to the 68th International Whaling Commission (IWC) Meeting in Portorož, Slovenia.

Our founder and CEO, Janek Andre, shares some thoughts in this blog on the history and role of the IWC, and points to ways we could persuade more countries to cease their whaling activities.

History of the IWC

The IWC was founded back in 1946 to talk about the “management of whale stocks”. Effectively, it was a specialised regional fishery management organisation focused on cetaceans (in other words, deciding how many cetaceans can be killed in what waters by what countries).

15 nations signed its founding document, the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling

Fortunately, as the years advanced, many countries recognised that whales and dolphins need to be protected rather than be killed. In 1986, the IWC enacted an historic moratorium on commercial whaling, banning all hunting except for scientific study and hunting by certain indigenous groups.

At the 2018 IWC Meeting, members of the Commission voted to back a Brazilian proposal to give indefinite protection for the world’s whale population, following an often contentious debate.

The “Florianopolis Declaration”, named after the location of the IWC meeting that year, saw whales as no longer being a necessary economic activity and affirmed the continued moratorium on commercial whaling. A non-binding declaration, it was backed by 40 members but 27 voted against, including, unsurprisingly, pro-whaling nations such as Japan, Norway and Iceland.

Environmental campaigners praised the Declaration, calling it “a big win for whales”  (International Fund for Animal Welfare) and a “manifesto for peaceful co-existence between whales and humans” (Ocean Care).

International Whaling Commission

IWC in 2022

Today the IWC counts 88 member states. Each member state sends a delegate who represents the interest of the represented country.

It is startling that despite the fact that the clear goal since the Florianopolis Plenary Session in 2018 has been conservation and welfare of cetaceans, we still count today more than 30 countries in favour of “sustainable whaling” as these nations call it!

For many reasons (recognition of their emotional intelligence, their important role in combating climate change and their importance to our ocean ecosystems, the list goes on!), whales should be protected by default in any national or international waters around the world.

International Whaling Commission

Can we stop all whaling in the world?

We at WeWhale attended IWC 68 on behalf of these majestic animals – to speak up for them and to propose conservation concepts which could even benefit pro-whale hunting nations like many in the Caribbean Islands but also Iceland and Norway.

Our proposal aims to develop sustainable whale watching concepts for countries possessing the privilege of having cetacean species living in “their” waters. As one of the main conservation topics is the reduction of underwater noise pollution, our solution for current whale watching and/or emerging whale watching countries focuses on providing responsible whale watching experiences that create awareness for whales and drive economic benefits for local communities.

Tackling the problem of the continuous rise of underwater noise pollution, WeWhale functions as a sustainable organisation implementing noise and emission-free whale watching concepts.

Like this, countries which are currently in favour of whaling, could make a major switch and benefit in addition to the development of local economic ecosystems.

Taking the objectives of the IWC and the role of cetaceans on Planet Earth into account, we especially encourage current pro-whale-hunting countries to shift their positions. WeWhale is ready to support, to implement and to make things work!

Hopefully we will soon have the International Whaling Commission renamed to become the International Whale Commission. WeWhale will be there at the front line to empower cetaceans and to make sure they live in a world where they aren’t in danger of being hunted.