Irish Whale and Dolphin Group - 5 Year Development Plan

22nd Aug 2001 The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) was established in December 1990 at the newly opened ENFO office. Representatives from both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland were present and it was decided that the IWDG would operate throughout the island of Ireland with the mission statement:

"dedicated to the study and conservation of cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) in Irish waters"

Two proposals were also agreed upon:

1) that Ireland should declare its waters a whale and dolphin sanctuary and

2) that a marine biologist, with responsibility for cetaceans should be appointed to the National Parks and Wildlife Service. The former was achieved on June 9th 1991 and the latter, in a minor capacity, in 1995.

Immediately the IWDG has established a stranding and sighting scheme, to monitor cetaceans in Irish waters. As part of this scheme standardised recording forms were produced and distributed and the IWDG has hosted training courses on identification and recording. Stranding records are now published annually in "Notes from the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group" which is published in the Irish Naturalists' Journal'. Other projects initiated by the IWDG include the Shannon Dolphin Project (May 1992), Live Stranding Training Course (April 1998) and the IWDG have also carried out dedicated cetacean surveys off Co. Mayo (June-July, 1993) and the Western Seaboard (June-September, 1998). To date the IWDG has produced 18 Newsletters (current print run 1,000), 16 of which were distributed free of charge.

The affairs of the IWDG are the responsibility of a Committee of 6-10 people who are elected at the AGM. The Committee elects a Chairperson, Secretary and Treasurer. In December 1999 the IWDG was granted charitable status (CHY11163) by the Revenue Commission and became a Limited Company in October 2000. Since May 2000 the IWDG has sought membership in order to support the work of the group. The main function of the IWDG is outlined in the Constitution and the revised mission statement since 1999 reads:

"dedicated to the conservation of cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) in Irish waters, through study, education and interpretation"

In order to fulfill the potential of the IWDG this 5 Year Development Plan has been produced which includes the aspirations and constraints of the IWDG together with its principal objectives during the period 2001-2005. The actions in the 5 year plan are listed in order of priority. We welcome any comments or input into achieving this plan.



The recording of cetaceans stranded on the Irish coast has been carried out since the beginning of the last century. Records prior to 1900 are scare but between 1913 and 1974 records were published regularly as part of the Stranded Whale recording Scheme ran by the Natural History Museum, London. After 1974 records were published mainly by the Natural History Museum, Dublin and since 1983 are published annually in the Irish Naturalist's Journal.

In 1972 Colm O'Riordan published the first list of stranded cetaceans in Ireland (Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 72(B), 15, 253-274) and there were regular additions thereafter. The first popular presentation of Irish cetacea was James Fairleys book Irish Whales and Whaling published in 1981, which included a detailed account of the whaling industry in Ireland. More recently Berrow and Rogan (Mammal Review 27(1), 51-76) published a review of all strandings in Ireland between 1901 and 1995.


To record cetaceans stranded on the Irish coast including species identification, length and sex, in order to monitor species occurrence, distribution, relative abundance, status, epizootics or high mortality. A subsidary objective would be to provide biological samples for dedicated research projects within Ireland and abroad.

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