Year of the Dolphin 2007 Partners Dive into Conservation

BONN, Germany, December 6, 2006 (ENS) - The Year of the Dolphin 2007, launched in Bonn on Monday, will be marked by an all-out effort to raise public awareness of threats to these marine mammals, such as entanglement in fishing nets and degradation of their habitats.


White-sided dolphins are among 37 species of marine dolphins. An additional four species inhabit freshwater rivers or saltwater estuaries. (Photo credit unknown)
The Year of the Dolphin is a joint initiative between the United Nations Convention on Migratory Species, its regional dolphin conservation agreements, the British nonprofit Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, and TUI, one of Germany’s top tour operators.

The partners will publish dolphin information in brochures and travel catalogues, in-flight magazines, and on a dedicated website,

"We believe that our tourists and managers could contribute to an important cause while enjoying their holidays or doing their work," said TUI Director of Corporate Environmental Management Wolf-Michael Iwand.

Multilingual dolphin manuals will be developed and distributed to young travellers and their families in TUI destinations and passed on to local schools. And a "dolphin diploma" will be created for children.

Ali Ross, fisheries expert for the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, says threats to these small cetaceans are so severe that once common dolphins are no longer common.

"The tragically mis-named common dolphin in the Mediterranean Sea is now officially endangered," she said, "driven to this state by a combination of factors of which bycatch is just one, but one that could and should be avoided."


Striped dolphins and tuna found entangled in a driftnet floating off the Aegean Island of Samothrace, Greece, May 2005. (Photo by Fisheries Research Institute, National Agricultural Research Foundation, Greece courtesy Environmental Justice Foundation)
Bycatch is the entanglement of dolphins in the nets of fishing vessels targeting commercial fish species.

"Conservation policy must be based on precaution, with the aim of reducing bycatch as far as possible, if we are to prevent conservation disasters occurring," said Ross.

It is estimated that world-wide over 300,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises drown in fishing nets each year.

The biggest threat facing Europe’s dolphins is incidental entanglement and death in fishing nets. Thousands of dolphins and porpoises around the UK continue to die in nets every year.

Several UN agencies are involved in the Year of the Dolphin project. The United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP, is working with TUI on the public awareness campaign.


Robert Hepworth is executive secretary of the Convention on Migratory Species, known as the Bonn Convention. (Photo courtesy Earth Negotiations Bulletin)
The UN Convention on Migratory Species, known as the Bonn Convention, which focuses on wild animals crossing national boundaries, declared 2007 the Year of the Dolphin, and invited corporations and other international organizations to help spread the message on the urgent need to protect dolphins.

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, selected the Year of the Dolphin campaign to be part of the activities of the UN Decade for Education on Sustainable Development. The campaign is also a tangible contribution towards meeting targets to reduce the loss of wildlife by 2010, which governments have agreed to do through the UN.

Nicolas Entrup of WDCS, Robert Hepworth of the Convention on Migratory Species, and Dr. Iwand of TUI Group were all present at the launch of Year of the Dolphin 2007 at the UN Campus in Bonn.

"The United Nations often lacks sufficient resources to undertake global public awareness projects, thus the need to join forces with others," said Hepworth, executive secretary of the Bonn Convention.


Dolphins jumping close to shore (Photo ©'87 Daniel McCulloch)
"We are very pleased to welcome TUI as our corporate partner of this campaign and rely on their established communication network to spread our message," Hepworth said.

Based in Berlin and Hanover, TUI Group has 3,300 of its own travel agencies in 18 European countries and operates package tours, airlines, hotels, resorts, cruise lines and container shipping.

At the launch event, TUI's Dr. Iwand said he views the partnership on dolphin conservation as beneficial for business. "This alliance with the Convention on Migratory Species is a smart way to conjugate business needs with outreach and communications on important environmental and social issues," he said.

TUI has offered to help organize a meeting in the Canary Islands in late 2007 to develop an international agreement for the conservation of small cetaceans in West Africa, by providing logistics and assistance to developing country participants.

The international launch of the Year of the Dolphin campaign took place in Monaco on September 17 with Prince Albert II of Monaco as Patron.

"The Year of the Dolphin gives me the opportunity to renew my firm commitment towards protecting marine biodiversity," said the Prince, who placed a dolphin sculpture in a marine reserve in Monaco's coastal waters. "With this strong initiative we can make a difference to save these fascinating marine mammals from the brink of extinction."