The Marine Mammal Commission (Commission) is an independent agency of the U.S. government charged by the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) to further the conservation of marine mammals and their environment. The Commission works to ensure that marine mammal populations are restored and maintained as functioning elements of healthy marine ecosystems. It provides science-based oversight of domestic and international policies and actions of other U.S. federal agencies with regulatory authority for, or whose actions may affect marine mammals and their ecosystems.
Current Government programs related to cetacean conservation
In August 2016, NOAA Fisheries published a final rule implementing the fish and fish product import provisions of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) (81 FR 54390; August 15, 2016). This rule establishes conditions for evaluating a harvesting nation’s regulatory programs to address incidental and intentional mortality and serious injury of marine mammals in fisheries producing fish and fish products exported to the United States.
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are responsible for developing Stock Assessment Reports (SARs) for each marine mammal stock that occurs in waters under the jurisdiction of the United States.
Under the ESA, NMFS enters into agreements with states that establish and maintain an "adequate and active" program for the conservation of endangered and threatened species. Once a state enters into such an agreement, NMFS provides federal funding through the Species Recovery Grants to States a competitive grant program for implementation of the state's conservation program. States use federal grant funding to support management, outreach, research, and monitoring projects with direct conservation benefits for threatened and endangered species.
Many populations of whales around the world are threatened by collisions with vessels. In the PELAGOS Sanctuary, the scientific community and several ship-owners have joined forces to deal with these accidents. The REAL TIME PLOTTING OF CETACEANS (REPCET) system is a collaborative computer tool for use in commercial shipping. At present, several shipping companies operating in the sanctuary are using REPCET. Every sighting of large cetaceans by watch-keeping personnel on board a vessel equipped with REPCET is transmitted by satellite in semi-real-time to a server located on land.
Cetacean surveys in Gabon have been conducted from five different field sites: Pongara (2012), Port Gentil (2000, 2012, 2014), Iguéla (2001-2005), Gamba (2000 and 2002) and Mayumba (2005-2011). Surveys have also been conducted in partnership with other agencies (including a cooperative COMHAFAT survey in 2011 and the EAF-Nansen project in 2014).
Gabon Bleu is a presidential marine conservation initiative to manage Gabon's coastal and oceanic waters and create a marine protected area network. Gabon Bleu also aims to improve industrial and artisanal fisheries, offshore oil and gas, and maritime security. Gabon Bleu works with local and international NGOs like WCS and WWF. Examples of the intiative's achievements include:
1. New Fisheries and Aquaculture Agency (ANPA)
2. An Ocean Council (CNM)
3. New legislation to create fishing zones and better apply fisheries law.
The IWC- Africa-Focused Sousa Task Team was established in early 2020 in response to repeated warnings of the severe decline of both species of Sousa (Atlantic and Indian Ocean humpback dolphins) that occur off the coast of Africa.
2.1 UK surveillance and monitoring programme
The Sea Mammal Research Unit has used spatial modelling to estimate abundance and explore species-habitat relationships of cetaceans in European Atlantic waters. The analysis combined data from SCANS-II (surveyed in 2005), CODA (surveyed in 2007) and the Faroes block of TNASS (surveyed in 2007).
Table 1: Current New Zealand Government Funded Research Projects Related
to Cetacean Conservation