Harbour porpoise proposal

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Harbour porpoise proposal

ORCA part of a group of NGO's that have presented a proposal focused on two small, distinct and endangered populations of harbour porpoises. 

Last week Mark Simmonds from the Human Society International (HSI) presented a proposal for a concentrated action for two European harbour porpoise populations at the Convention of Migratory Species (CMS), 13th Convention of the Parties. The proposal was written by ORCA, HSI, Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) and Coalition Baltic and focused on two small, distinct and endangered populations.

The first population is the Baltic harbour porpoise which has long been recognised to be in need of urgent conservation action. Failure to recover due to pressure from a multitude of threats, including bycatch and chemical pollution, has resulted in only a few hundred animals being left today. . The geographical range of this porpoise is significantly smaller than in the past and they are listed by the ICUN as critically endangered.

The second is the harbour porpoise population of the Iberian Peninsula, which has more recently been recognised as distinctive and is critically isolated. This population has been recognised as a high priority for conservation by a number of scientific fora. These animals inhabit cold-water upwelling zones along the Atlantic coasts of Spain and Portugal. The population size is below 3,000 animals and it is estimated that annual mortality rates are high.

At the 24th ASCOBANS (Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic, North East Atlantic, Irish and North Seas) Advisory Committee meeting it was recognised that these two populations should be listed in the CMS Appendix 1 (Endangered migratory species) and ORCA, HSI, WDC and Coalition Baltic decided to take forward the proposal to support the work of ASCOBANS and the Jastarnia Plan (the Baltic Sea Harbour Porpoise Action Plan) to protect these populations. This will also strengthen collaborative efforts by all CMA Parties bordering the Baltic Proper and likewise the Iberian population will also benefit from the actions, particularly with regard to reducing bycatch.

Proposed activities for the benefit of these populations include:  

  • Work to support the ASCOBANS Recovery Plan for the Baltic Sea harbour porpoise
  • Work to assist governments on the collection of relevant data on fishing effort within the range of both populations
  • Contributing to the development of conservation goals relevant to EU regulations for both populations
  • Working to raise awareness of the Baltic Sea and Iberian populations of harbour porpoise for the general public, managers and decision-makers in all range states

 The group of NGO’s that made this proposal all have a wealth of and the concentrated action will be a continuation and extension of existing programmes. The full proposal can be read here.