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Conservation Management Plans

Conservation Management Plans (CMPs) are an important conservation initiative of the IWC.  They provide a framework for countries within the range of vulnerable cetacean populations (known as range states) to work together, and in collaboration with other relevant stakeholders, to protect and rebuild those populations.

Cetaceans face an array of threats including fishing bycatch, entanglement, ship strikes, habitat loss, pollution, climate change and acoustic disturbance.  CMPs are flexible management tools that help range states address these threats.  They draw on the best available science and management expertise from the international community, and can be tailored to meet individual circumstances.   

The CMP programme is managed by the Standing Working Group on CMPs in accordance with the principles outlined in the CMP work plan. The work plan outlines priorities for existing and future CMPs, and includes guidelines for the development and implementation. 

The CMP work plan was reviewed during the 2016-18 intersessional period, and a revised work plan was endorsed by the Commission at IWC67 in September 2018.  You can read the workplan here.  

The Standing Working Group collaborates closely with 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.  A map outlining the stages of the CMP process can be found here.  A Commission-approved CMP template is also available here.

CMPs have been developed for four vulnerable cetacean populations: the Western North Pacific Gray Whale, the Western South Atlantic Southern Right Whale, the Eastern South Pacific Southern Right Whale, and the Franciscana dolphin (the first CMP for a small cetacean species). 

You can read about the individual CMPs for each population below:

Western North Pacific gray whale

Western South Atlantic southern right whale

Eastern South Pacific southern right whale

Franciscana dolphin

Priority species for future CMPs

Arabian Sea humpback whales

The Arabian Sea population of humpback whales was first suggested as a possible candidate for the development of a CMP in 2010. The population is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and is believed to comprise less than 100 individuals.

Severe scarring from entanglement, coastal infrastructure developments, offshore hydrocarbon exploration, the potential for unregulated whale-watching, and the planned commencement of new shipping routes and increased shipping traffic through known habitats is concerning, and make the population an ideal candidate for a CMP.

Consistent with advice from the Scientific Committee, research on this population has continued, along with efforts amongst scientists and non-government organisations to establish a regional initiative to co-ordinate conservation efforts for the population.

An Arabian Sea Humpback Whale Network was formed during a workshop held in Dubai in 2015. The network has been used to exchange information and showcase research and conservation in various range states.

In October 2017, the Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Migratory Species agreed a Concerted Action for the population, which included the development of a CMP. Supporting statements were made by Oman, India, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Ecuador, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the IWC’s Secretariat.

The IWC will build on these developments and continue to engage with relevant range states to encourage and support the development of a CMP for the population.