Whales in a Changing Ocean Conference
The Whales in a Changing Ocean Conference will be the very first international conference on whales in the Pacific islands region and will be hosted in Nuku’alofa, Tonga from 4 - 6 April this year. It will discuss how the changes occurring in our oceans are impacting upon our largest mammals, many of which breed in the Pacific islands and feed in the Antarctic Ocean, where industrial fleets took them to the brink of extinction last century. The conference is the keynote event of the Year of the Pacific Whale, organised by the Secretariat for the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, on behalf of its 26 Member countries and territories. It will develop a regional perspective for upcoming international events, including the UN Ocean Conference in June.
Over a period of three days, participants from varied backgrounds (Pacific ministers, scientists, communities, international agencies, NGOs, the private sector, government ministries,) will discuss a number of topics leading to an outcome that will help implement Sustainable Development Goal 14. In particular, the Conference will:
• review the ecosystem and economic value of whales in the Pacific islands;
• promote best practice whale watching for application throughout the region and explore innovative programmes underway around the world;
• provide an update on the status and trends of whales in the Pacific Islands region and;
• bring together government representatives and senior officials to discuss future collaborations on the conservation of whales in the region, as a precursor to the review of SPREP’s marine species programme and the development of a Whale and Dolphin Action Plan 2018-2023.
It is planned the Conference will culminate in a Declaration on Whales in a Changing Ocean that will identify ways the Pacific region commits to achieving SDG14 through the conservation of whales. It is hoped this Declaration will be showcased and highlighted during the UN Ocean Conference in June this year.
This conference is hosted by SPREP, the Government of Tonga and the Auckland Institute of Studies, New Zealand. It is also supported by a wide range of sponsors and partners. The website for more information on this is: https://www.sprep.org/whales-in-a-changing-ocean-conference-2017/home