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IWC experts will take the next steps in a long-term programme to understand the impact of climate change on cetaceans.  Reflecting the importance of this issue, it is the first time that the IWC will live stream an expert workshop on its YouTube channel.  The workshop runs 29 Nov - 3 Dec and timings are below.

Follow the workshop discussions on YouTube. 

This is the fifth in a series of IWC technical workshops. It will review the latest scientific research and assess both observed and predicted effects of climate change on cetaceans, including on their prey and habitats.

When the IWC started to consider climate change, the availability of key information and predictive power were both limited. The situation has changed dramatically and the latest results from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change provide an accurate and stark assessment of the current situation.

The IWC’s knowledge of cetacean biology, and ability to model population trends are also much improved.  Research now shows strong evidence of distributional shifts in some species, which are likely to be the consequence of the changing climate.  Whilst this may suggest some ability to adapt, the extent is unknown and may be forcing cetaceans into new waters containing new threats, for example moving into shipping lanes or areas of concentrated fishing activity.

In related work, the IWC Scientific Committee of the IWC is also working to explore the ecosystems services that whales provide, including how they may trap and store carbon, and help in the distribution of nutrients.

Whilst concerns about the direct and indirect effects of climate change for cetacean species and populations are now well substantiated in science, the IWC has already identified a clear need for more research and enhanced international cooperation to improve understanding and, thereby cetacean stewardship.

As well as setting out what further efforts are needed to understand the impacts and consequences of climate change on cetaceans, the workshop is likely to make a series of recommendations regarding how work should be coordinated and shared with other work programmes.  These include existing IWC work programmes on bycatch, ship strikes, Conservation Management and Task Teams, and crucially, coordination with other organisations working to address aspects of climate change at international, national and local levels.

Follow the discussions live on the IWC YouTube channel.

Timings (all UK GMT)

Tuesday 30 Nov:        1500 - 1800
Wednesday 1 Dec:     0700 - 1000
Friday 03 Dec:            1500 - 1800

A report of the IWC’s fifth workshop on climate change will be published following the meeting. 

Click here to read more, including previous workshop reports.