The World Cetacean Alliance is the world’s largest partnership working to protect whales, dolphins and porpoises (cetaceans). With 70 partners from 24 countries representing non-profit organisations, whale and dolphin watching operators and individuals, WCA aims to conserve and protect cetaceans and their habitats. Working together to phase out captivity and seek protection for cetaceans, the WCA is a global community of people who care for cetaceans, study and respect them.
To achieve their goals the WCA has prioritised four global programmes, stopping cetacean captivity, promoting responsible whale and dolphin watching, preventing extinctions and raising awareness of the issue of ghost gear and entanglement. The WCA opposes the keeping cetaceans in captivity for any purpose other than genuine rescue, rehabilitation and sanctuary. WCA actively opposes the wild capture, trade and keeping of cetaceans for anything other than their sanctuary.
The global programme includes tackling the issue of ghost gear and WCA is proud to be part of the Global Ghost Gear initiative. In 2015 WCA launched its Net Effect Campaign to spend a combined 4000 days at sea searching for, measuring the scale of and releasing wildlife from ghost gear. It will also talk ‘nets’ with 500,000 people on the water and get the public involved with bringing ghost gear to an end.
The WCA also plans to develop and implement community-based projects working with local partners on the ground to find solutions to fisheries conflicts and encouraging ecotourism as an alternative for coastal communities who overlap with critically endangered species. Notably the WCA is working closely with partners focused on the Ganges River Dolphin of Nepal and Maui’s Dolphin of New Zealand. The WCA has been raising awareness of these species through events such as WhaleFest (the world’s largest celebration of wild whales and dolphins), raising vital funds and providing logistical support and advice.
The WCA Responsible Whale Watching Partners are developing initiatives to share scientific data, develop new standards for whale watching and to encourage tourists to get active on fishing net bycatch and entanglement.
In August 2015 the WCA launched a new initiative to recognise worldwide destinations which champion responsible whale and dolphin watching and celebrate the cultural importance of cetaceans living in the waters around them. With the first summit to be held in October in the Azores Islands it is hoped that designation of a destination as a Whale Heritage Site will boost tourism, enable sustainable management of marine resources and promote the highest levels of responsible whale and dolphin watching.