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Fin whale

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Location and size vital for whale and dolphin protection areas

WDC, together with more than 100 delegates from over 20 countries around the globe have been attending an international conference looking at protected sea areas for marine mammals like whales and dolphins.

Around the globe, whale and dolphin populations are under threat and need places where they are protected. ‘Safe havens’ – effective marine protected areas and reserves – help to preserve the habitat critical for whales and dolphins in all the oceans of the world.

The outcomes agreed at the third International Conference on Marine Mammal Protected Areas (ICMMPA 3), in Adelaide, Australia included, an agreement on a network of protected areas between the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park and the Agoa Sanctuary in the Caribbean, and also a declaration of the first marine protected area (MPA) to safeguard Bryde’s whales, tropical dolphins, sea turtles in the seas around Bangladesh.

At the conference, WDC research fellow, Erich Hoyt spoke to those present about the case for Important Marine Mammal Areas, or IMMAs.

“IMMAs are not MPAs,” says Hoyt, co-chair of the new Task Force. “They are tools to identify and map all the areas that we should be paying attention to whether the result is an MPA, part of a network, a zone for marine spatial planning, or an area where whales are getting hit or being bothered by noise that could be zoned or given other protection measures. Putting a layer of IMMAs on the map keeps everyone honest in terms of whether marine mammal concerns are being addressed.”

WDC Australian office co-hosted the conference along with the governments of Australia and South Australia, and all the participants were grateful to WDC Australasia manager Mike Bossley for his untiring efforts on the ground to make the conference happen.

For more information on the conference go to icmmpa.org.

The IUCN Marine Mammal Protected Areas Task Force page is mmpatf.org.