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Conservation Management Plans

Conservation Management Plans (CMPs) are an important conservation initiative of the IWC.  Their aim is to protect and rebuild vulnerable cetacean populations.

Cetaceans face an array of threats  including fishing bycatch, entanglement, ship strikes, habitat loss, pollution, climate change and acoustic disturbance.  The IWC introduced the CMP concept in 2008.  CMPs are flexible tools which consolidate the best available science and management expertise, and can be tailored to meet individual circumstances.   

The programme is managed by the Standing Working Group on CMPs in accordance with principles outlined in the CMP workplan. The workplan outlines priorities for existing CMPs, future CMPs (including priority species, threats and habitats) and areas for further research. You can read the workplan here.  The Standing Working Group will undertake a mid-term review of the workplan during the 2016-18 intersessional period. 

The Standing Working Group works closely with both the Scientific and Conservation Committees, to ensure that policy and management actions are underpinned by the best available scientific advice.  The Standing Working Group reports to the Conservation Committee which in turn reports to the Commission.  You can read the latest report of the Standing Working Group here.

The process for each CMP involves a number of interrelated stages: nomination; development;  implementation; monitoring; and review.  Click here for a map outlining all the stages of the CMP process. A Commission-approved CMP template and funding principles have also been agreed.  These are available here.

Four CMPs have been initiated by the Commission.  The first was endorsed in 2010 and relates to the gray whale population in the western North Pacific.  Two separate CMPs for  populations of southern right whales along the eastern and western coasts of South America were endorsed in 2012.  A fourth CMP was endorsed in 2016.  This was the first for a small cetacean population, the franciscana dolphin, found in coastal waters of the southwest Atlantic. 

You can read about the individual CMPs for each population:

Western North Pacific gray whale

Western South Atlantic southern right whale

Eastern South Pacific southern right whale

Franciscana dolphin

In 2016 the Commission endorsed proposals to explore the scope for an Arabian Sea humpback CMP, and for CMPs related to particular threats rather than populations, for example bycatch and marine debris.  This scoping work will be undertaken by the Scientific and Conservation Committees during the intersessional period.