GOBI milestone reached in marine mammal conservation

Efforts to promote the conservation of marine mammals in the western tropical Pacific Ocean have culminated in the production of a set of management recommendations to safeguard the future of dugong and cetacean species in and around Palau.  This is the first of three such interventions under GOBI’s five-year research programme funded by the German International Climate Initiative (IKI).

The recommendations were produced by a team of experts assembled by the IUCN Marine Mammal Protected Areas Task Force in October/November 2017 and in direct consultation with local stakeholders.  The intention is that the recommendations will support the implementation of conservation and management considerations for an Important Marine Mammal Area (IMMA) and an Area of Interest (AoI) in Palau waters.  Both areas were proposed during the Pacific Islands IMMA expert workshop held in Apia, Samoa in April 2017 and were subsequently approved by the IMMA review process.

The team of experts recognised that resident dugong and cetacean species in Palau present different conservation challenges and will require different management approaches, thus tailoring their recommendations to suit each animal group.  This dual approach was discussed and agreed with various stakeholders.  The success of the IMMA and AoI in Palau waters depends upon full engagement by all stakeholders at the local community level, as well as researchers, government and NGOs.  The short- and longer-term recommendations should form the baseline for the development of targeted scientific, management and policy measures to be coordinated by a local entity, eventually allowing the establishment of long-term monitoring and research capabilities and building capacity for all aspects of conservation.

The full report by the IUCN Marine Mammal Protected Areas Task Force detailing their recommendations can be found here.