Workshop on Important Marine Mammal Areas in the South Pacific

The IUCN Marine Mammal Protected Areas Task Force invited 23 marine mammal researchers and other experts from 14 Pacific countries to Apia, Samoa, for the second in a series of regional Important Marine Mammal Area (IMMA) workshops, 27-31 March 2017. This followed the first IMMA workshop in the Mediterranean in October 2016 sponsored by the MAVA Foundation.

The South Pacific IMMA workshop, sponsored as part of the Global Ocean Biodiversity Initiative through the German government’s International Climate Initiative (GOBI-IKI), recommended a preliminary total of 29 candidate IMMAs (cIMMAs) and 16 areas of interest (AoI). These will now go to an independent review panel.

The Samoa workshop was hosted and facilitated by the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP). The initial results were announced by the Task Force members attending the “Whales in a Changing Ocean” conference in Tonga, 4-6 April. This event, as well as the IMMA workshop, formed part of the “Year of the Whale” celebrations in the South Pacific organized by SPREP and the countries of the South Pacific.

The region covered by this latest IMMA workshop was vast—from the Hawaiian archipelago in the northern hemisphere to the network of island states including Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, New Caledonia, Niue, Tonga, Fiji, the Cook Islands and French Polynesia, among others. Various cIMMAs were mapped for humpback whales, sperm whales, spinner dolphins, pygmy and dwarf sperm whales, Risso’s dolphins, Cuvier’s beaked whales and rough-toothed dolphins, as well as dugongs.

For more information, go to https://www.marinemammalhabitat.org/second-imma-workshop-held-samoa-helps-celebrate-year-whale-south-pacific/

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Announcement of the Second Indian Ocean Cetacean Symposium

The Second Indian Ocean Cetacean Symposium will be held by the Marine Research Centre (www.mrc.gov.mv) in the Maldives in 2019.  This is to follow on from the first Indian Ocean Cetacean Symposium that was held almost a decade ago, in July 2009, (see report here), and coincides with the 40th anniversary of the declaration of the International Whaling Commission’s Indian Ocean Sanctuary. The meeting will offer an opportunity for active cetacean researchers from across the Indian Ocean region to meet, to present findings, and to plan collaborative research activities. It will also bring together representatives of international organisations concerned with cetacean research and conservation.
Dates and venue are now being finalized, but will likely be for three days in May-June 2019. If you would like to register to receive further information please contact: Ms Mariyam Nazeefa, mnazeefa@mrc.gov.mv
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New Infographic from Arabian Sea Whale Network

After months of planning, the Arabian Sea Whale Network (ASWN) has finalized an infographic designed to raise awareness of the unique nature of Arabian Sea humpback whales and the urgent conservation challenges they face.  The infographic is intended for dissemination to a wide range of stakeholders, including government agencies responsible for conservation management, fisheries managers, port authorities and other industries that impact the marine environment.  Some ASWN members are also distributing electronic and printed versions to schools and coastal communities, and are translating the infographic into Arabic, Farsi, and Hindi in order to reach a wider target audience.  It is hoped that this awareness-raising tool will encourage stakeholders to engage and invest in the conservation efforts required to conserve this population and enable its recovery.

Arabian Sea Whale Network Infographic

ASWN is also working on the development of a regional online data platform that will allow members to archive cetacean sightings and strandings data in a common format to facilitate Arabian Sea-wide comparisons and analyses. ASWN is working with the developers of Flukebook, an open-source cetacean photo-identification and data archiving platform. As well as archiving data from directed cetacean research, the new regional data platform will facilitate the collection of third-party and opportunistic whale sightings data, such as the wave of reports made by fishermen from Pakistan late in 2016.  In countries where dedicated cetacean surveys have not yet been organized due to lack of funding or security concerns, these third-party reports can provide extremely valuable insight into whale distribution and threats.

For more information, please contact Gianna Minton (gianna.minton@gmail.com), Tim Collins (tcollins@wcs.org) or Marina Antonopoulou (mantonopoulou@ewswwf.ae)  Click here to download a high resolution PDF (75 MB) of  the  infographic.

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