Small cetaceans are exposed to a range of threats within the ASCOBANS Area. Man-made threats include bycatch, prey depletion, marine pollution, underwater noise, ship strikes, unexploded ordnance or disease. Some of these they may encounter in different regions as they migrate seasonally between their breeding, feeding and over-wintering ranges, or follow their prey over long distances.
Small cetaceans are no longer deliberately hunted in the Agreement area, whereas they are in some other parts of the world, including in the Faeroe Islands (adjacent to the ASCOBANS area) and in distant Japan.
The combined and cumulative effects of all human activities are unknown, but it is clear that cetaceans are also under additional pressure from habitat degradation and climate change. New threats to cetaceans are also continuing to emerge as a result of expanding and diversifying human activities at sea.