People behind ASCOBANS: Penina Blankett

  Name: Penina Blankett

  Organization: Ministry of the Environment

  Country: Finland

  Involved with ASCOBANS since: 1999

I work at the Ministry of the Environment on marine nature conservation issues. My tasks include responsibility for underwater inventories, as well as related international agreements dealing with conservation and marine mammals, e.g. the Helsinki Commission, ASCOBANS and the International Whaling Commission.

Since childhood I have been interested in marine life and during my biology studies I became more and more interested in marine mammals. My aim was to be a cetacean scientist – but life does not always go as planned. So eventually I took up my current job and when Finland joined the ASCOBANS Agreement in 1999, I had the opportunity to work with cetaceans from another perspective.

There have been so many nice experiences and memorable moments during these 17 years of involvement with ASCOBANS. I have enjoyed working on ASCOBANS; the people in our meetings are very dedicated, and the issues we are addressing are of great interest, although not always easy to deal with. Some memorable moments that spring to mind are the Jastarnia meeting in 2002, especially the warm hospitality of our Polish host (so much food!) and also that Advisory Committee meeting, also in Poland, when we scratched some pictures in the sand and discussed with Swedish colleagues how to plan a project to find out the amount of harbour porpoises in the Baltic Sea. The first thoughts of SAMBAH! Acting as vice-chair has also been an educational and interesting period.

All in all, I like all animals, but my favourites are marine mammals and especially my heart beats for the Baltic Sea harbour porpoise. Why? Because it is the only cetacean species in the Baltic Sea and my wish is that it will continue to be there also in the future. And above all, I hope that in the future we can again enjoy the scene where harbour porpoises play in our waters.

I hope we can continue the work we have done in the framework of ASCOBANS in the same manner and perhaps even more enthusiastically. We should be even more proactive in our work and aim to be one of the leading bodies working with small cetaceans. We have all the possibilities!

Last updated on 14 February 2017

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