Covid-postponed IMMA workshop finally takes place

The resumption of international travel and in-person meetings has enabled the completion of the last (of the five scheduled) GOBI-sponsored regional IMMA workshop, targeting the South East Tropical and Temperate Pacific Ocean.  This IMMA region comprises 24% of the Pacific Ocean, and nearly half of the world’s whale, dolphin, porpoise, seal, sea lion and otter species live or visit these productive waters.

Originally planned for completion in October 2020, the workshop finally took place in June 2022 in San José, Costa Rica, attracting the participation of 56 marine mammal scientists, both in-person and virtually.

Starting off with 118 preliminary Areas of Interest (pAoI) to consider, participating experts divided themselves into six subgroups covering sections of the long coast from northern Mexico to the southern tip of Chile and out into the high seas.

The IMMA Secretariat of the Marine Mammal Protected Areas Task Force (MMPATF) tallied the preliminary results on the workshop’s last day: a total of 48 new candidate IMMAs will go forward to the reviewers, along with six AoI. Following the review process over the next few months, approved IMMAs will be placed on their dedicated e-Atlas.

As well as completing the five original GOBI-sponsored regional IMMA workshops as planned, the IMMA Secretariat and MMPATF managed to squeeze in an additional virtual IMMA workshop during the pandemic lockdown (targeting the Black Sea, Turkish Straits System and Caspian Sea Region), and in addition have delivered non-GOBI-sponsored regional IMMA workshops over the years, bringing the total to nine workshops to date (see all results).  A further two workshops are in the pipeline targeting the Atlantic Ocean. It’s never been busier for marine mammal experts!