Monday, May 12, 2008

African whales

Interesting time in Dakar, where I spent five days last week helping the Lenfest Ocean Program and WWF WAMER organize a regional scientific workshop to assess with African scientists and policy-makers what was true behind the allegation spread all over West Africa by Japanese officials that hungry whales are responsible for the collapse of local and foreign fisheries in the region.

The preliminary findings can be summarized in a nutshell:

* To protect fish resources one must look at overfishing, including illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing operations;

* What is more, most baleen whales in the region come there to reproduce, and it is well known that whales do not feed during the breeding season;

* Bryde's whales are resident whales in the region, but they do not feed on commercially viable species, at least for the most part.

The Lenfest preliminary findings will be discussed next month in Santiago, Chile at the meeting of the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) before they're finalized and published in a scientific journal.

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