Reclassification comes after the global population has doubled since the 1970s.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) have announced that fin whales have been reclassified as vulnerable, having been previously listed as endangered.
The species, which is the second largest animal on the planet, was decimated by commercial whaling throughout much of the 20th century, but following the global moratorium most commercial whaling of this species has stopped and allowed numbers to slowly recover.
However, continued commercial whaling activity in the north Atlantic still threatens this species and though global numbers are estimated to have reached 100,000, continued whaling could arrest future recovery.
“Fin Whales and Western Gray Whales were severely depleted by hunting, and it is a relief to finally see their populations on the rise. These whales are recovering largely thanks to bans on commercial hunting, international agreements and various protection measures. Conservation efforts must continue until the populations are no longer threatened,” says Randall Reeves, Chair of the IUCN SSC Cetacean Specialist Group.
“These examples of governments, industry and civil society acting together for conservation should provide inspiration for Parties gathering in Egypt this week at the Convention on Biological Diversity conference.”
Also benefitting from the ban on whaling are a subpopulation of gray whales found in the western Pacific, which have been moved from Critically Endangered to Endangered. Mountain gorillas have also seen positive population growth, according to the announcement.
However, the state of the marine environment is still incredibly challenging for whales and dolphins, with a broader array of anthropogenic threats facing cetaceans than at any other time in history. Continued monitoring and study of these species is vital in order to give them effective protection.
If you'd like to help ORCA protect whales and dolphins by monitoring cetaceans across Europe and beyond, check out our Marine Mammal Surveyor courses where you can train to be a citizen scientist and protect vulnerable marine spaces.