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Extending the Global Whale Entanglement Response Network

IWC training in the San Ignacio Lagoon, El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve, Mexico

The latest IWC entanglement response training has concluded successfully in the San Ignacio Lagoon, Mexico.  The two day event was an addition to two previous workshops in Mexico (in Pt Vallarta and La Paz), and was sponsored by the National Resource Defense Council with support from the IWC, NOAA (USA) and the Autonomous University of Southern Baja California.   The twenty trainees included representatives of the regional marine parks and nominated local fishermen and boat operators.  

The first day of training began in the classroom.  Sessions covered local and global context, legal issues, techniques and safety protocols.  Led by David Mattila of IWC/NOAA and Ed Lyman (NOAA, USA) the group also discussed the ultimate goal of preventing entanglements occurring in the first place.

On the second day, four traditional small boats (pangas) were deployed and each instructor used one as a 'whale,' towing rope and debris to simulate entanglement, and another to conduct the 'rescue,' putting theory into practice.  The rescue boats contained one instructor and two trainees at a time, enabling the participants to test out the techniques on the water.  The remainder observed from the 'whale' boats.

The trainees received positive evaluation from the trainers. A life on the water in small boats with whales and fishing gear made most participants suitable for lead roles in entanglement response teams.  Funding from the National Resource Defense Council enabled the trainers to leave behind the basic kit used during the training.  This will be augmented with other equipment and kept in readiness in the San Ignacio Lagoon.

This training has helped Mexico to complete most of their 'Northern' Entanglement Response Network. Possible training to the South in November 2014 will help to complete the National Network.  The next IWC entanglement response workshop is taking place in Samana Bay in the Dominican Republic, and is supported by the World Society for the Protection of Animals.

For more information on whale entanglement click here.