The State of the World’s Oceans for Marine Mammal Habitat Protection

This past week at conferences in Adelaide and Sydney, Australia, with marine mammal and marine mammal protected area specialists from around the world, my colleague Erich Hoyt and I, in our capacity as co-chairs of the IUCN Marine Mammal Protected Areas Task Force, presented the map you see here to illustrate what is and what is not protected in terms of marine mammal habitat. Most of the areas shown relate to whales and dolphins.


Working Towards IMMAs

A pdf version of the map can be downloaded from here.

Only a few areas cover pinnipeds (seals and sea lions) and sirenians (dugong and manatees), but there are huge gaps for all the species and most whale and dolphin species have no protection at all.

Most of these areas, in fact, are political designations with minimal real protection for marine mammals.

We are now proposing a new conservation tool to help remedy this situation: the Important Marine Mammal Area, or IMMA (more information on cetacean habitats here).

Working with WDC consultant Mike Tetley and Kristin Kaschner, from Albert-Ludwigs-University of Freiburg in Germany, we are now testing and refining the criteria and creating a strategic planning document.

Meanwhile, at the Convention on Migratory Species COP last week in Ecuador, the ecological networks resolution encouraged “Parties, other Range States and relevant organizations to apply…the criteria for identifying Important Marine Mammal Areas (IMMAs) developed by the IUCN Joint SSC/WCPA Marine Mammal Protected Areas Task Force once adopted by IUCN.”

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