A boost to the conservation of whales, dolphins and porpoises

Le Conquet/Bonn, 9 September – The 23rd Meeting of the ASCOBANS Advisory Committee took place at the heart of the Iroise Sea, in Le Conquet, France. The meeting reviewed the status quo regarding small cetacean conservation in the ten Parties, with particular emphasis on underwater noise, ocean energy, unexploded ordnance and marine spatial planning. Other notable issues included a Special Species Session on the White-beaked dolphin (Lagenorhynchus albirostris) and discussions on a new Conservation Plan for the Common Dolphin (Delphinus delphis).

Coordination of the three ASCOBANS action plans on harbour porpoises was agreed, which is envisaged to notably strengthen the work in the Baltic, Belt and North Seas. The Advisory Committee further agreed to fund a web-accessed international database on marine mammal stranding and necropsy data, which will integrate the different national monitoring schemes in order to better understand cetacean ecology and the ultimate causes of why cetaceans strand. The new EU Regulationon the Conservation of Fishery Resources and the Protection of Marine Ecosystems through Technical Measures(2016/0074(COD)) was subject to discussion, participants emphasized the importance of the forthcoming vote of the European Parliament in autumn and agreed to alert decision-makers accordingly. A process for national reporting on bycatch and strandings in 2018 (assessing progress in 2017) was agreed, with the UK offering to host a meeting in winter 2017/2018. Building on this work funds were identified for a larger workshop on appropriate bycatch levels within the ASCOBANS framework in 2018. Next year will see a lot of work on bycatch and strandings as foreseen by the 8th Meeting of Parties (see Resolution 8.1).

Parties and observers welcomed a draft book on “Conservation of European Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises:Twenty-five years of the Regional Agreement, ASCOBANS” by Dr. Peter Evans (Seawatch Foundation). The book contains a wide overview of small cetacean matters and has been written for the wider public with a strong interest in scientific and policy affairs. Other outreach highlights included the ”Hello, little whale” video campaign in celebration of the International Day of the Baltic Harbour Porpoise.

Last updated on 11 September 2017

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Species group: 
Marine mammals