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Summary of the workshop on the biology and conservation of small cetaceans and dugongs of Southeast Asia (Perrin et al. 1996):

The following list of recommendations was developed during discussions at the Workshop on the biology and conservation of small cetaceans and dugongs of southeast Asia (Perrin et al. 1996):


Incidental captures

- Incidental captures in fisheries are a major source of mortality of small cetaceans throughout Southeast Asia. There are few quantitative data on the species caught or the numbers of animals killed. In some countries, the introduction of laws prohibiting the incidental capture of marine mammals has increased the difficulty in obtaining information on such takes. The Workshop recommended that:
- studies on abundance and stock structure within the region be carried out using appropriate methodologies;
- all countries give high priority to research on the impact of the incidental catches of marine mammals in their waters;
- laws prohibiting the incidental capture of marine mammals be amended so that fishers who present specimens or data for scientific research are immune from prosecution;
- local people, institutions and governments be encouraged to participate directly in the planning and implementation of research on marine mammals and other aquatic resources and the resulting management and conservation programmes.


Documentation of marine mammal resources

Because it is very difficult to halt a major development once planning has reached an advanced stage, it would be more effective to alert a developer, the government or the local people to a potential problem prior to this stage. The Workshop (Perrin et al. 1996) therefore recommended that each country give high priority to the identification of coastal and riverine areas which support significant population of marine mammals, such as feeding and calving areas, and to the wide dissemination of this information in an effective format (e.g., GIS, coastal resource atlases, use of local language).


Training of national scientists

- Successful marine mammal research programmes in Southeast Asia will require professionally trained nationals. Successful programmes have been developed to train the nationals of several countries, especially Thailand and the Philippines. Expertise in marine mammal research is less well developed in most other countries in the region with the exception of Australia. The Workshop (Perrin et al. 1996) recommended that:
- UNEP, perhaps in cooperation with partners from the EGO and NGO community, sponsor regional training workshops in the methodologies required for marine mammal research such as those organised in South America (1986-87) and Africa (1992);
- countries with established expertise assist with the postgraduate training of scientists from the region.

International co-operation

Marine mammals do not recognize political boundaries, and research to support their conservation often requires international cooperation. The Workshop recommended (Perrin et al. 1996) that countries sharing contiguous aquatic environments supporting significant marine mammal populations endeavour to develop cooperative research programmes to provide the information required to develop effective management policies.

When international agencies fund large-scale assessments of natural resources in a region, it may be cost-effective to include marine mammal surveys in such projects. The Workshop (Perrin et al. 1996) recommended that:
- when UNEP is aware of such opportunities it suggest (in consultation with regional experts) that marine mammal surveys be considered in the planning of the project;
- the GEF Yellow Sea Project consider including cetacean surveys with the assistance of appropriate technical expertise from other countries, e.g. Japan.

There are several intergovernmental sources of funding for marine mammal research, including UNEP Regional Seas Programme, ASEAN Biodiversity Programme, and Biodiversity Convention Funding. The Workshop noted that the IUCN Cetacean Action Plan projects in Eastern and Southern Asia are being implemented largely through Ocean Park Conservation Foundation (OPCF) and its partners, e.g. Whales and Dolphin Conservation Society, WWF, and David Shepherd Foundation. The Workshop recommended that Governments in the region explore, either multilaterally or bilaterally, the development of a cooperative approach to inter-governmental funding and sourcing agencies (Perrin et al. 1996).


Perrin WF, Dolar MLL, Alava MNR (1996) Report of the workshop on the biology and conservation of small cetaceans and dugongs of Southeast Asia. East Asia Seas Action Plan. UNEP(W)/EAS WG. 1/2, Bangkok, Thailand.101 pp.


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