Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Setubal - Wednesday


Today, among other things, we heard about Risso’s dolphins stealing squid from the fisheries around the Azores (and efforts to try to persuade them not to do this); efforts to study the effects of seismic surveys on humpback whales in Australia;  the redoubtable Chris Parsons talked about conflicts at the IWC; Fiona Reid described her investigations into the Iberian Peninsula harbour porpoise; and then, finally, in this series of longer presentations, Jonas Teilmann, spoke about the impacts of windfarns. In this he also noted the scale of farms that would actually be required to meet energy needs and replace fossil fuels: he estimated that an area of 4 million km squared might be needed to meet just 25% of the planet’s needs at this point. This is equivalent to half the area of the USA!

Chris Parsons in full flood
and in close up.


The key note speaker today, Len Thomas, told ‘hippie’ researchers to get their statistics sorted out before they start their field studies and bemoaned the lack of statisticians in the field whilst also trying to recruit people to statistical education.

There were 14 workshops at the weekend and 13 of them reported back to the ECS plenary this morning. One - the SAMBAH workshop - was closed.

Sarah Dolman reported on the white-sided dolphin workshop; Toby Oliver reported on the student workshop ‘ so you want to be a marine biologist’; Tiago Marques talked about the passive acoustic data workshop which attracted 54 participants (about 10% of the ECS attendees); Ines Carvalho reported on the bottlenose dolphin workshop which included consideration of the action plan for the population in the Sado Estuary (near to where we are meeting) and also a presentation from Paul Jepson which linked the disappearance of bottlenose dolphins and orcas around Europe to chemical pollution; Dillon Walker was not here to talk about using geodesign to identify ocean areas for conservation (so someone else did it for him) – a Global Outreach Programme to Identify Areas of Concern for Cetaceans will be launched on June 1st.

Cristina Britta spoke about the workshop on scientific illustration that met on Saturday (please see earlier blog entry) and she refers to the small but very enthusiastic group that gathered!  

Peter Evans reported on the joint ACCOBAMS-ACOBANS workshop on Cetacean Population Structure. The group defined their management unit then considered what tools might be used to investigate these units and then they looked at particular species. Killer whales in the Gibraltar Strait and Risso’s dolphins throughout the Mediterranean were identified (along with some other species) as requiring particular attention.

The second joint ACCOBAMS-ASCOBANS workshop this year (which Peter Evans also reported on) looked at Spatial Management of cetaceans (attended by almost 100 people). In this workshop, various impacts were also considered. Chris Clark, for example, highlighted that we need to think about noise on an appropriate scale and highlighted that ship noise has a widespread impact for many species.  Conclusions included that much of the current legislation lacks teeth; better communications is needed between all stakeholders

Communicating marine mammal science to the general public was the topic of another workshop. This included looking at the role of museums and art projects. One of their conclusions was that ‘education should also address the understanding of the underlying human behaviour that leads to threats [to cetaceans]… ‘.

There was also a workshop about using Pamguard – an acoustic monitoring device and another on morbilliviruses in marine mammals.

Then there was the workshop on rescue best practise. Its conclusions are shown below and were presented by Sarah Dolman.


Next, Marta Plata reported on the large scale sperm whale research workshop.. 

Most participants then escaped to lunch and the AGM rolled through its agenda, noting among other things that the ECS has 423 members – roughly 50/50 students and others; and that the UK, Germany and Portugal are the homes of most participants.

The ECS Council or 'Last Supper.'
The AGM eventualy gets to the Risso's resolution.

Andrew Wright introduced it and the text was beamed up onto the big screen at the front of the room

Just to remind you, the operative sections says the following:

'The ECS therefore,
Calls for urgent attention to be paid to the conservation of this species, particularly the establishment of protected areas and other appropriate measures for this species and recommends its inclusion on Annex II of the Habitats Directive.'

Andrew asked if anyone objected - 'raise your hands if you do' he encouraged - and no one did. And the resolution is thus passed by consensus and - noted ECS President, Thierry P. Jauniaux, the resolution will shortly be published on the ECS workshop.

[Many thanks to everyone who helped to get this resolution in place over the last few months and here at the conference.] 

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