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Focus on cetacean conservation in the Pacific region

 A two year Pacific regional campaign 'Protect Pacific Whales – Ocean Voyagers' has been launched by the Secretariat of the Pacific Environment Programme (SPREP) in Samoa. The IWC is one of a number of partner organisations supporting the campaign which aims to promote the conservation of whales through a range of initiatives and awareness raising activities.

The Pacific Island region is home to over half the world's species of cetaceans and the iconic humpback whale is now the focus of a multi-million dollar whalewatching industry in many SPREP countries.  In the last century, the impact of commercial whaling may have reduced humpback numbers in this region as low as 130 individuals.  A comprehensive assessment by the IWC’s Scientific Committee, completed in 2015, estimated that the population has recovered to approximately 50% of its estimated pre-exploitation population size of around 14,000. This turnaround in population trend is an encouraging example of the success of conservation measures.

Other threats still exist for whales and dolphins here as in all the world’s oceans, and the SPREP campaign provides an opportunity to raise awareness of issues including habitat degradation, ship strike and entanglement. In recent years, the IWC has worked with SPREP to build capability to respond safely and effectively to whale entanglements in fishing gear or marine debris. A training workshop was held in Tonga in 2014, and specialised equipment kits are now held by trained responders in Tonga and Vanuatu.

SPREP’s two year programme is an ambitious mixture of scientific research, training and capacity-building, exchange of information, and cultural and artistic celebration. Click here for more information.