Inter-regional Workshop Addresses Whale Migration and Habitats

UNEP28 May 2012: At an inter-regional workshop coordinated by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Permanent Commission for the South Pacific (CPPS), participants analyzed the migration routes of large whales, their critical habitats and the threats from humans, and discussed priorities for action.

They also addressed the usefulness of marine spatial planning for the transboundary management of marine mammals.

Convening from 21-24 May 2012, in Panama City, Panama, the workshop brought together officials from 22 governments in North America and Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) and representatives of intergovernmental organizations, NGOs and universities, as well as experts and scientists. They examined distribution maps for five species of large whales in the eastern Pacific and 25 species of whales and dolphins in the wider Caribbean, their migration routes and maritime maps of human activities that affect marine mammals. They exchanged information about data collection and map elaboration methodologies, and identified areas where further work is required.

According to UNEP, the workshop provided training and technical guidance on marine spatial planning processes. Participants discussed demonstration projects, outlined scenarios, agreed on recommendations for transboundary management and on future work needed to manage corridors for marine mammals and their habitats in LAC, the Pacific northwest and the southeast Pacific, and explored creating inter-regional networks and learning exchanges between planners and managers of marine resources.

The inter-regional workshop is part of the two-and-a-half-year Project for Broad-scale Marine Spatial Planning of Mammal Corridors and Protected Areas in Wider Caribbean and Southeast and Northeast Pacific, launched in 2010 by the UNEP-Spain Partnership for the LifeWeb Initiative. The Project aims to provide an overview of the status of habitats and migration routes of marine mammals in the eastern Pacific, the Caribbean and neighboring regions, facilitating regional dialogue on the inter-sectoral spatial design of options for the management and protection of marine mammals, and supporting the objectives of the Lima Convention for Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and Coastal Area of the South-east Pacific and the Cartagena Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region. [Workshop Website] [UNEP/ROLAC Press Release]