Historically marine mammals have been severely impacted through human activity with hunting in the 19th and 20th centuries nearly driving many species to extinction. While international efforts to ban such activities has seen some populations recover from these dangerously low levels (e.g., in 2021, increase of 36% of baleen whale species1), this is not the case for all, with many populations remaining critically endangered. Whaling has been replaced by an abundance of anthropogenic hazards such as incidental by-catch, entanglement, ship strikes/collisions with ships, including in-direct habitat destruction, prey removal and noise pollution, as primary threats. To date, fishery by-catch continues to be a dominant conservation threat for many species.
With the continued threats to marine mammals, compounded by the detrimental effects of Climate Change, there is a real need for effective conservation measures. The diversity of threats faced by marine mammals requires an equally diverse suite of conservation tools. One of the most common approaches is the use of Marine Protected Areas (MPA). MPAs may be designed to protect marine mammals directly by targeting threats or indirectly through management goals that may reduce impacts. However, in many cases, the success of an MPA is drastically hindered through a lack of resources, capacity and/or knowledge to effectively implement management practices.
To tackle these threats, to fill knowledge gaps and to empower practitioners, managers and policy makers to effectively conserve marine mammals, the Marine Mammal Twinning has designed and created a toolkit for the inclusion of marine mammals into MPA, and other, management plans on an international scale. In addition, the Marine Mammal Twinning aims to build the technical capacities of MPA managers by sharing knowledge, expertise and good practises as well as creating a network of peers, that could provide assistance to other MPA managers on an ad-hoc basis.
There are 23 available factsheets within the toolkit that span five critical themes that are often experienced by MPA managers, policy makers and practitioners: Management Frameworks; Addressing Activities and Threats; Research and Monitoring; Outreach and Engagement; and Management Effectiveness
Supported by the factsheets, the toolkit hosts a Self-Assessment Tool (SAT) that enables MPA managers, stakeholders and other relevant parties to assess the extent to which marine mammals are included in their respective management plans.
Read the full article here: https://marine-mammals.info/marine-mammal-management-toolkit-launch-2021/