WWF launches campaign to help protect critically endangered whales

!cid_BC1DF7E4-9A31-4662-9247-11D95B6A2129 WWF floated an 11 metre whale down the River Thames in London on Tuesday, January 7, 2012, to highlight the plight faced by one of the world’s most endangered whales.

With as few as 130 whales, including only 26 breeding females thought to remain, the western gray whale is teetering on the edge of extinction and their critical feeding ground off the coast of Sakhalin Island in the Russian Far East, is now under threat.

Two drilling platforms already exist next to the key feeding ground as part of the Sakhalin II oil and gas project, and Sakhalin Energy Investment Company is currently making plans to build a third oil rig in the area. The third platform was not part of the original environmental impact assessment, and if plans go ahead, this already vulnerable population of whales could be pushed closer to extinction.

WWF is calling on the European project lenders – BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse and Standard Chartered – to oppose Sakhalin Energy’s plans for another platform and request that the project is limited to the two existing platforms as originally agreed.

Colin Butfield, head of campaigns at WWF, said: “The western gray whale is on the verge of extinction, and the additional platform, which was never part of the original proposal, sets a dangerous precedent for all future oil and gas projects in the region. WWF is calling on the banks to take action and oppose the plans - before it's too late for these critically endangered whales."

The Western Gray Whale Advisory Panel, a group of 11 independent scientists focused on considering how to reduce the impacts of oil and gas operations on the whales, is meeting with lenders and Sakhalin Energy on 12-14th February.

The public can visit the whale on London’s Southbank this week, and will have the chance to learn more about the campaign by picking up a copy of ‘The Daily Whale’, a WWF newspaper being handed out at tube stations. WWF is also inviting the public to help encourage the banks to say no to a third platform, by signing our petition online at www.thelast130.org

Western gray whales feed in the waters off Sakhalin Island during the summer and autumn months. Gray whales are the only large whales that feed from the sea bottom, churning up the sea bed and filtering the disturbed invertebrates through their baleen plates. The shallow waters close to the island are the only waters that are suitable for mothers to teach their calves how to feed in this way.

If Sakhalin Energy’s expansion plans are successful, there will be increased risk in these critical feeding grounds from noise pollution (especially that caused by seismic surveys), increased likelihood of oil spills, lethal whale and ship collisions, and chemical pollution.

This press release is presented for your information only.

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.