[MARMAM] IWDG Propose a European Whale and Dolphin Sanctuary

Simon Berrow simon at shannondolphins.ie
Wed Jul 11 04:00:07 PDT 2012

IWDG Propose a European Whale and Dolphin Sanctuary


On 7 June 1991, the then Taoiseach Charles Haughey declared Ireland a Whale
and Dolphin Sanctuary in recognition of the importance of Irish waters "for
these magnificent creatures".  The Sanctuary Declaration was unique in
Europe and no EU Member State had made such an unequivocal statement about
the importance of their waters for cetaceans (whales, dolphins and
porpoise).  The Sanctuary Declaration had a number of important precedents,
it covered the Irish EEZ which extends up to 200 nmls (350km) offshore and
acknowledged the importance of habitat protection. 


Although no additional legislation was enacted to support the Sanctuary
Declaration as the existing legal framework was considered appropriate, it
did raise awareness and interest in cetaceans in Ireland and ultimately led
to increase research and knowledge which has led to conservation actions.
The Sanctuary Declaration led to a clearer understanding of the
responsibility Ireland had to cetaceans and their habitat including in
offshore waters. The Sanctuary Declaration was a precursor to action leading
to protection in Irish waters and thus the IWDG consider the Sanctuary
Declaration a success. 


A part of the 21st Anniversary celebrations of the Sanctuary Declaration,
the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group are proposing the extension of this
sanctuary concept throughout European waters to create a European Whale and
Dolphin Sanctuary. There are a number of small marine protected areas in
Europe for cetaceans including harbour porpoise and bottlenose dolphins and
some international sanctuaries such as the Pelagos Sanctuary in the
Mediterranean. These areas all have important roles to play but cetaceans
are mobile marine species and travel large distances. Also to gain public
support for cetacean conservation it may require a larger, more simple


The European Whale and Dolphin Sanctuary proposal has been endorsed by the
Environmental Pillar and we have held informal discussions with partners
throughout Europe. The IWDG will promote this concept within Europe and
encourage like-minded people and organisations to lobby their own government
to make such a clear and unequivocal statement on cetacean conservation.
Action requires political will which needs engagement by the public.


Please sign the petition at



For more information contact:

Brendan Price

IWDG Campaigner for a European Whale and Dolphin Sanctuary

Tel: 00353 1 8354487; Mobile: 00353 87 324 5423

Email: bmp.price at gmail.com



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