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Entanglement and Strandings Training in Russia

The latest IWC entanglement response training has concluded successfully in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia.  The long-term training programme is a partnership between the IWC and Center for Coastal Studies, Provincetown (CCS).  This workshop was also supported by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) who provided an additional training component on strandings response.  

This training was requested by the local community, an active community group called the Boomerang Club and its marine mammal volunteers.  It is part of a long-standing IWC/Russian Federation plan for entanglement response training in the region.  This first pilot project was able to move forward because of the generous support of IFAW, Sakhalin Energy Investment Company Ltd, and a number of local community sponsors.   As entanglement in fishing gear has been identified as the highest priority threat to the critically endangered Western Gray whale population of the region, this training supports actions recommended by the IWC's Conservation Management Plan (CMP) for the Western Gray Whale

Entanglement and stranding response training were combined to make the most efficient use of limited resources given the remoteness of much of the coastline and difficult logistics.  Brian Sharp of IFAW led the strandings training, having  worked with the US Government and stranding responders from other countries in order to develop international principles and guidelines for stranding response, similar to those for entanglement response.  As a former entanglement responder and trainer at the CCS, Brian was also able to assist David Mattila who leads the IWC/CCS entanglement response training.  The trainees included volunteers from the local Marine Rescue Authority, as well as some volunteers with experience working with marine mammals in the region.

The first two days were conducted in the classroom, and outdoors (on land), for 60 participants including representatives of local environmental ministries, the Russian Federation Ministry of Emergency Control, specially protected natural reservations, oil and gas companies, veterinaries and volunteers from Marine Mammals Rescue Social Group.  These were followed by two days on the water, in order to accommodate a larger group of 22 practical trainees.  The trainers also reminded the gathering that there are groups of entanglement, stranding and cetacean disease experts who can be reached for advice through the IWC.  The workshop closed with an expression of deeply felt thanks from the trainers for the warm welcome and generous hospitality of the Boomerang Club and all involved.

These four days of training were supported by IFAW, the IWC, Sakhalin Energy Investment Company Ltd, the Boomerang Club, the Marine Mammal Council and CCS.

To view drone footage of the Sakhalin training click here.

For photographs of the Sakhalin training, and other entanglement workshops, click here.

For more information about stranding, click here.

The following are links to local news coverage of the training:

https://www.sakhalin.info/news/133419 https://www.sakhalin.info/news/133419