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Is it possible to sustain healthy whale populations?

June 25, 2012

Is it possible to sustain healthy whale populations?

Juan Mate, STRI’s Scientific Advisor for Marine and Coastal Affairs, hosted a public forum this week about whaling and a reception for the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission, which is holding its annual meetings in Panama

Juan Mate, STRI’s Scientific Advisor for Marine and Coastal Affairs, hosted a public forum this week about whaling and a reception for the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission, which is holding its annual meetings in Panama. The Executive Secretary of the IWC and two Committee members spoke at the forum.

The IWC was established in 1946 under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling. In response to unsustainable fishing practices and worldwide declines in whale populations, the IWC adopted a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1982. The Scientific Committee’s nearly 200 members gather data about whale populations and make recommendations regarding whaling quotas for aboriginal subsistence and requests for “scientific whaling permits” from member nations.

Mate and STRI marine biologist Hector Guzman provided scientific information that underpinned the creation and management of Coiba National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Las Perlas Special Management Zone, a haven for migrating humpback whales from both the Southern and Northern hemispheres.

Currently Guzman is advising Panama’s Maritime Authority as it develops a Traffic Separation Scheme to limit contact between whales and more than 14,000 vessels that transit the Panama Canal each year.

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