New paper suggests many countries will miss PCB targets

4th Aug 2017

Orcas are one of the many species of cetacean known to have been affected by this issue.

New research has shown that many European countries are on track to miss the targets set for reducing levels of polychlorinated byphenals (PCBs) contamination as a part of the Stockholm Convention, despite Europe being seen as a world leader on the issue.

The paper, published by ORCA partners Wildlife & Countryside Link in conjunction with Zoological Society London, highlights troubling findings that show the impact of PCBs on a range of marine wildlife, including evidence that the chemical may be responsible for the contemporary population declines of cetaceans in Europe.

The article, published in journal Marine Policy, stresses that current controls on PCBs are insufficient and call on the signatories to take immediate action to '[negotiate] a compliance mechanism for the Convention as soon as possible.'

PCBs are persistant organic pollutants (POPs) and have been found to have a range of negative impacts on human and environmental health, including increasing cancer risk and impacting fertility.

The substances came to prominence earlier in the year when the necropsy of Lulu, a killer whale found dead on the Isle of Tiree in Scotland, found levels of PCBs that were amongst the highest ever recorded.

ORCA are active members of Wildlife & Countryside Links PCB subgroup and are supporting their work to ensure the UK government are taking this critical threat to cetaceans seriously.

The full article is: Stuart-Smith, S. J., & Jepson, P. D. (2017). Persistent threats need persistent counteraction: Responding to PCB pollution in marine mammals. Marine Policy, 84, 69-75