South African Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN)
Support Group





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SOME SIGNIFICANT ACHIEVEMENTS:


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In 1970 the present secretary was instrumental in bringing about legislation to protect dolphins from killing, capture and harassment in what was then the Cape Province. Under the 1973 SEA FISHERIES ACT, this protection was extended to SWA (now Namibia) and under the 1998 MARINE LIVING RESOURCES ACT (Act No. 18 of 1998) was ammended, taking into consideration recommendations made by the Group.

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In 1978 the group's secretary began to co-operate with investigations into 'pirate' whaling (or regulations outside of the International Whaling Commission). She gave investigators valuable information, critical to bringing this shameful operation to an end. This information was subsequently incorporated into reports submitted to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and the United States Senate Enquiry.

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In 1979 the Group launched the SAVE THE WHALES campaign in the RSA and under the umbrella of this campaign approached the government in the same year with substansive evidence that whales should receive protection in South African waters from killing, disturbance and harassment. On 5 December 1980 regulations were promulgated, but the whales were only protected in their breeding season. Once again the Group approached the authorities and in 1984 the regulations were extended to protect the whales all the year round.



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After launching the SAVE THE WHALES campaign, it took the Group over 20 years of uphill lobbying to change the government's vote at International Whaling Committee (IWC) meetings from pro-to anti-whaling. Not only the government, but at that time most South African citizens were not against commercial whaling. Through intensive educational programmes, attitudes changed.

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South Africa's regulations to protect cetaceans are amongst the strictest in the world. The Group co-operates with the authorities to ensure that the regulations are properly implemented.

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In 1979 the Group also launched the DOLPHIN WHALE WATCH RSA project. Data collected from observers enabled officers of the Group to write up several papers on the movements and behaviour of cetaceans frequenting South African waters, two of which were published in a reputable scientific journal. The project was closed in 2005. During the time it was in operation, a mass of data was collected, which has helped the Group considerably in it's work.

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In 1984 the Group launched the SAVE ANTARCTICA campaign and joined the international ANTARCTIC & SOUTHERN OCEAN COALITION. For many years serious campaign work was done to educate the public about Antarctica and the man-made threats to this continent, as well as investigations into Patagonian toothfish poaching. As officers of the Group served on the SEA PATROL CO-ORDINATING COMMITTEE (SEAPACC) during the 1990s and into 2000, they were able to bring poaching problems to the attention of the SA Navy and other maritime organisations.

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In 1988 the SAVE OUR SEA LIFE: PREVENT PLASTIC POLLUTION campaign was launched in South Africa. Since that time this campaign has involved thousands of South Africans and it was the first time an organisation had tackled the problem seriously in RSA. This has been one of the most successful campaigns run by the Group.

 

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Under the umbrella of the foregoing campaign fell the international issue of HIGHSEAS PELAGIC DRIFTNETTING. The Group worked on this issue for several years, concentrating it's efforts on the southern Indian and Atlantic oceans.

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Among other things, the Group persuaded the South African government to promulgate anti-driftnetting regulations in 1989 and persuaded the government of Mauritius to do likewise in 1991. The United Nations brought about a moratorium on highseas pelagic driftnetting in 1992, thanks to the input and campaigning of hundreds of scientists and non-governmental organisations internationally, including the Group.

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In 1991
, through the Group's efforts and with the help of certain scientist, the government agreed to promulgate protection of the Great White Shark. This was a world first. Namibia followed South Africa's example in 1993 and subsequently numbers of other countries have done likewise. Protection of this apex predator has certainly changed attitudes towards sharks, despite unfortunate attacks.

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For many years the Group has trained a team of mass stranding volunteers in the Western Cape area, as well as supplying. Information to the media and general public. Oceans & Coasts (DEA) have now taken over the training of volunteers and deal with all mass and single strandings.


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In 2005, working with officers of what was then Marine & Coastal Management and now Oceans & Coasts,, the Group helped form the SOUTH AFRICAN WHALE DISENTANGLEMENT NETWORK. The Network was launched officially in 2006 and is working well. This is the Group's main project at present, and falls under the SAVE THE WHALES campaign.

ADDITIONAL WORK :

In past years the Group distributed thousands of educational pamphlets to the general public and/or schools. However, with the advent of internet, requests for this information has gradually dried up. No longer will packs of literature be distributed. Officers of the Group are quite willing to assist with free information in a consultancy capacity should anyone need it.

* MARPOL ANNEX V decals as shown above, supplied free on request to: merchant vessels & fishing vessels (RSA only).

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