The 2016 biennial Commission meeting of the IWC will be held at the Grand Hotel Bernardin, Portoroz, Slovenia.
The importance of a meeting to strengthen links between national entanglement response teams was reinforced when a real entanglement was reported and then disappeared from local waters.
Held in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, the trilateral workshop brought together North American entanglement response leaders from Canada, the USA and Mexico. The aim of the meeting was to develop working agreements to aid cooperation when dealing with entangled whales across national boundaries. It was convened by the IWC Entanglement Response Network and hosted by la Comision Nacional de Areas Naturales Protegidas (CONANP).
Entanglement of whales in fishing gear and marine debris is a growing and global issue. The size and power of whales means these entanglements can be carried thousands of kilometres and across national boundaries. This size and power also means that entanglement response is dangerous. Safe, professional and coordinated entanglement response is needed for both whale and human safety. The workshop considered these issues and also the importance of information sharing between countries, in order to understand and prevent entanglements from occurring in the first place.
At the end of the workshop, a technical session on databases was interrupted by Puerto Vallarta’s first reported entanglement of the season. Workshop participants were able to join the local Mexican response team on the water, consolidating the spirit and principles of cooperation developed over the previous three days.
Despite fading light, the team managed to find the whale and attach two lines which enabled them to pull up close and study the configuration of the entanglement. They had two attempts at cutting key lines before darkness made further work too dangerous. The following day, three search boats were unable to relocate the whale which may have travelled on, a poignant reinforcement of the need for entanglement teams to work together, within and beyond national borders.
The workshop was organised by the IWC in partnership with the Center for Coastal Studies (CCS) and supported by World Animal Protection (WAP), Comision Nacional de Areas Naturales Protegidas (CONANP) and Ecologia Y Conservacion De Ballenas, AC (ECOBAC).
For more information on the IWC’s Global Entanglement Response Network click here.