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Acting for big cetaceans by the will of Pelagos Agreement, the IWC and the Coast Guard in Genoa.

Updated: Jun 2, 2023

Thanks to the special chemical-physical conditions of sea water and ocean currents, the marine area among Sardinia, Tuscany, Liguria, Monaco and France is considered as one of the richest region in biodiversity. This fact pushed research institutes and environmental associations to encourage the creation of an international marine protected areas starting from the 1980's. The Pelagos Sanctuary, held in October 2001, is the result of this multi-year construction path. Since then, this international Agreement has been acting in practice. On the 16th and 17th May 2023, a specific intervention training was carried out in Genoa (Italy), addressed to the safeguarding of marine mammals, with special regard to big cetaceans often entangled in fishing gears. The initiative resulted from the partnership among the Pelagos Agreement, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and the Italian Coast Gard - Maritime Directorate of Genoa.

Photo >> The participants to the Intervention Training addressed to safeguarding marine mammals within the Pelagos Sanctuary (16th and 17th May 2023) © Pelagos Sanctuary

This is the first step of a set of operational-unit initiatives supported by the three Member Countries, under the new 2022-2027 Management and Action Plan of the Pelagos Agreement. The training course was led by Giovanni Stella, Captain of Navy (CP), Second in Command of the Corps of the Harbour Office of Genoa, together with David Mattila and Bob Lynch, experts of the IWC Global Whale Entaglement Response Network, an international network that trained approximately 1,300 operators in thirty-six different countries.

The first day was addressed to a technical presentation of cetacean populations affected by this problem, to the illustration of case studies and to an in-depth debate concerning the methods of intervention and their simulation.

On the second day, the participants were engaged in at-sea operations to test and refine techniques learned in class (e.g.: approach manoeuvres, use of tools to facilitate proximity to the animal, removal of tools, etc.). Besides that, a Response Toolkit will be soon made available to each Member of the Agreement to make all procedures harmonised and in line with the objectives of the agreement.

This fruitful interaction, essential to the development of the Pelagos' action plan,

was made possible by the voluntary contribution of the Italian Party to the "Pelagos Voluntary Fund". All participants expressed their deepest enthusiasm for the work done, wishing to have further opportunities in the near future. A thought shared by the International Whaling Commission, intergovernmental body in charge of the conservation of whales worldwide, and the Guardia Costiera, one of the six constituents of the Italian Navy (Marina Militare Italiana) responsible for providing a sustainable management of fundamental civil uses of the sea. ***

To know more about the Pelagos Sanctuary and th IWC please click here: Sanctuaire Pelagos & International Whaling Commission.


By Maurice Abbati

Springer International Publishing

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