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Los Cóbamos, Sonsonate was the location of El Salvador’s first large whale entanglement response workshop, held last month.

The training was facilitated by the IWC and conducted by members of the Mexican Whale Disentanglement Network (RABEN) who also provided specialist equipment.  The workshop was designed by a global panel of experts, convened by the IWC to share experiences and best practice, and devise a programme to teach disentanglement techniques which are both safe and effective.  Disentanglement of large and often distressed animals at sea is extremely dangerous and human safety is paramount in the protocols and decision-making processes taught to responders.

Each of the two day workshops begins with classroom sessions and land-based exercises before a smaller number of participants continue at sea.  Boats are used to simulate entangled whales, and trainees must use the specialist tools and apply the earlier training whilst also handling a boat, sea swell and weather conditions.

Participants included technical and resource guard personnel from Ministerio de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales, CENDEPESCA, the Policía Nacional Civil, Fuerza Naval, Proyecto Regional de Biodiversidad Costera/UICN, fishermen, whale watching operators, FIAES, CORSATUR, Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología Icmares-Ues, ProCosta and Proyecto Megaptera.

This group forms El Salvador's first Whale Disentanglement Group (GABES) whose stated aim is to respond immediately to large whale entanglement events by implementing protocols and techniques for rescuing these marine mammals within the framework of the National Cetacean Conservation Program and in collaboration with the National Cetacean Conservation Assembly.

The training took place on 21-22 November and follows another workshop in Italy earlier in the month.  Click for more information on large whale entanglement and the IWC Global Whale Entanglement Response Network.


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