A partnership between SPREP, governments of Pacific Island Countries and Territories and other governments in the Pacific region, IGOs, NGOs, and stakeholders in the private sector to promote the conservation of whales in the Pacific islands region to restore depleted whale populations, and improve the livelihoods of Pacific islands people.
The populations of large whales in the Pacific region were severely depleted by commercial whaling operations last century. Although populations are slowly recovering, they are now under stress from a number of threats, including risks from:
Ingestion of, or entanglement in, marine debris, including discarded fishing gear
Noise, including from low-frequency active sonars, seismic surveys
By-catch in fishing operations
Poorly-managed whale watching operations.
The Pacific islands is an acknowledged global leader in the establishment of whale sanctuaries, with over 12 million sq km of Pacific islands EEZs designated as whale sanctuaries. This commitment will engender new levels of commitment by governments and other stakeholders, and new partnerships to enhance the conservation of whales in the region, through a five-year management plan that will maximise the level of protection available to whales across the Pacific islands region (which containsover 10% of the planets oceans).
To improve global awareness of the Pacific islands achievements in establishing whale sanctuaries over vast areas of ocean
To increase collaboration between governments and other stakeholders to exchange traditional knowledge, lessons learned and scientific information on the conservation and management of whales in the Pacific islands
To promote better monitoring of the status and trends of whale populations in the Pacific islands and to involve local communities through participatory monitoring
To promote best practice whale and dolphin watching and whale and dolphin-based tourism across the region and to promote the involvement of Ministries of Tourism or National Tourism Authorities, private sector and local communities in these activities
To support measures which limit the discharge or dumping of fishing gear and other sources of marine debris into the ocean in the Pacific islands, including from land-based sources
To improve the awareness of fishermen and local communities of the potential impact of marine debris on marine life and in particular cetaceans
To promote research into the impacts of climate change on whale populations in the Pacific islands
To generate new funding opportunities and commitments to support the conservation of whales in the Pacific islands.
Implementation Methodologies and Governance:
Implementing entity: SPREP, responsible for project management.
Executing entity: Governments of individual Pacific island countries and territories
Oversight body: A board, chaired by SPREP, with membership from all partners, to review implementation and provide strategic guidance.
Adoption by countries and territories of the Pacific Islands region of the Pacific Islands Year of the Whale Declaration 2016/17
Enforcement of existing measures, and where appropriate, introduction of new measures, to stop the discharge or dumping of fishing gear and other sources of marine debris into the ocean in the Pacific Islands, including from land-based sources
Development of a regional protocol for the training of operators and guides in best-practice whale- and dolphin-watching
Adoption and implementation by countries and territories of the Pacific Islands region of a comprehensive Whale and Dolphin Action Plan to guide the activities of individual countries and territories - adoption by September 2017