Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (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. It covered the Irish EEZ which extends to 200 nmls 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 increased 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 and was a precursor to action leading to protection in Irish waters and thus the IWDG consider the Declaration a success.
As part of the 21st Anniversary celebrations of the Sanctuary, the IWDG are proposing the extension of this 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. To gain support for cetacean conservation it may require a larger, more simple concept.
The European Whale and Dolphin Sanctuary proposal has been widely endorsed in Ireland and we are discussing with partners throughout Europe. We are promoting this concept within Europe and asking individuals and organisations to lobby their own government and MEPs to make such a clear and unequivocal statement on cetacean conservation. Your petition can make this happen.
For more information contact:
IWDG Campaigner for a European Whale and Dolphin Sanctuary
Mobile: 087 324 5423
Email: [email protected]