International Whaling Commission (IWC) focus on cetacean bycatch in the western central Pacific Ocean

IWC Secretariat (2023) International Whaling Commission (IWC) focus on cetacean bycatch in the western central Pacific Ocean. In: WCPFC Scientific Committee 19th Regular Session. WCPFC-SC19-2023/EB-WP-10, Koror, Palau

The Scientific and Conservation Committees of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) have focused on a number of species and themes that are relevant to the assessment of cetacean bycatch in tuna fisheries of the western central Pacific Ocean (WCPO). The IWC Bycatch Mitigation Initiative (BMI) and Human Induced Mortality (HIM) sub-committee in particular concentrate on the need to improve the monitoring and mitigation of cetacean bycatch worldwide, including the WCPO, adopting numerous recommendations (see IWC Database of Recommendations – DoR). The BMI, as well as the IWC’s Global Whale Entanglement Response Network and the IWC’s Stranding Initiative, work worldwide sharing expertise and information, including assisting countries by providing capacity building programmes to assess cetacean bycatch, prevent entanglement of large cetaceans and develop entanglement/strandings response capability. This work has benefitted from the IWC’s engagement with local and international organisations, such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). In 2023, the IWC agreed on a 4-year capsule project within the GEF/FAO Common Oceans ABNJ Tuna project Phase 2. This project aims to collaboratively advance efforts to assess and address cetacean bycatch in tuna fisheries across two ocean basins, notably the western central Pacific and Indian Oceans. The project’s activities fall within the following themes: assessing cetacean bycatch and data gaps to inform RFMOs; building regional capacity and awareness on cetacean bycatch and available solutions; and collaboratively developing recommendations to address cetacean bycatch for consideration by multi-lateral environmental and fisheries agreements. The IWC will focus on developing recommendations for cetacean conservation through its own Committees and Commission processes and build a coordinated and collaborative approach with IWC member governments as well as in relevant RFMOs, such as the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission and Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.