Conserving marine mammal species urgently requires expanding from the IMMAs’ evidence-based approach to the implementation of place-based policies and actions that would eventually lead to the reduction of risks.
To this effect, the Marine Mammal Protected Areas Task Force is setting up regional groups in preparation for IMMA and other potential Task Force workshops over the next years, as well as for follow-up actions from the regional IMMA workshops.
This is seen as an evolving role of the Task Force with the fundamental task and mandate of serving its goals and needs in each region, specifically related to the implementation of conservation measures following on from the selection of IMMAs in each region.
To facilitate this process, a permanent regional community of practice of place-based marine mammal experts is created as a follow-up to each regional IMMA workshop, under the facilitation of one or more regional co-ordinators, tasked to consider the following issues (pending availability of resources):
assemble the regional group of experts (including names, specialties and email addresses of experts) covering all relevant species, subregions and other aspects as needed (various threat experts, MPA and MSP experts, etc.);
assist the preparation for initial and follow-up regional workshops by encouraging the expert body to submit relevant information and “Areas of Interest” (AoI) submissions under the guidance of the IMMA co-ordinator;
assist in logistical and other support for the regional IMMA workshop and follow-up actions;
assist in the drafting and updating of IMMA fact sheets to support the provision of relevant knowledge in the e-atlas;
address consideration and uptake of the IMMA tool by stakeholders during relevant regional management planning (e.g., MSP);
promote the collection of scientific knowledge of the ecology and status of marine mammals in the region, including facilitating:
monitoring of existing regional relevant pressures on and threats to marine mammal populations
contribution of all the relevant occurrence data deriving from the workshops to global databases (such as OBIS SEAMAP);
surveying existing management measures in place (mostly within IMMAs) to address pressures;
examining the need for the establishment of MMPAs and follow up with proposals, lobbying, and to provide scientific and conservation expertise.
Participants at each regional workshop and those contributing supporting data form the nucleus of the regional expert group. The regional co-ordinator is appointed by the Task Force chairs from within the group, and is invited to become a member of the Task Force.
The regional co-ordinator is responsible for maintaining and expanding the group, as needed, and to conduct actions in support of the envisioned tasks in collaboration with the Task Force and with the relevant IUCN SSC Specialist Groups.
The regions correspond to the boundaries chosen by each regional workshop which roughly correspond to the 18 IUCN Marine Regions.
It is anticipated that every 2-3 years the Task Force Regional Co-ordinators will meet at the International Conference for Marine Mammal Protected Areas (ICMMPA), or at the IUCN World Conservation Congress (WCC), the International Marine Protected Area Congress (IMPAC), the Society for Marine Mammals (SMM) Biennial, as well as other regional marine mammal meetings.
A summary report of the regional group activities and accomplishments is expected to be submitted to the Task Force Chairs at the end of each year, on 31 December.