Monday, 9 December 2013

The Land of the Long White Cloud - SMM 1


So we are now in Dunedin for the conference of the Society of Marine Mammalogy (SMM) Conference. 

The Society meets every two years and brings together many of those working on marine mammal issues from around the world. Some 1,200 participants were expected to attend. 

Dunedin also turns out to be the home of the world's biggest and most ornate train station!

The conference is opened by a greeting from the local Maori people

Keynote presentations then following begining with one from Professor Barabara L. Taylor who spoke on: 'All the ingredients - how to succeed in marine mammal conservation'
She took examples from the key issues of the 20th century: including the Canadian seal hunt.

And the tuna-dolphin issue of the Pacific (showing how actions led to a decline in take)



Then she moved to the current issues - the 'usual suspects':



And looked at the interplay between the various players in such issues - The scientists, NGOs, courts etc.


And her conclusions are summarised here:


The next key-note speaker, Steve Dawson, told us about the precarious situation of New Zealand's endangered dolphin species - The Hector's dolphin, including its genetically distinct North Island sub-species, the Maui's dolphin.


The Maui's dolphin population is very small.


Lorenzo Rojas-Bracho (seated below) then told us about another highly endangered species: the vaquita of the Gulf of California.

Lorenzo being introduced by conference co-organiser Liz Slooten.


The 'Kenneth S. Norris Lifetime Achievement Award' was presented to Ian Stirling who is famed for his work on polar bears.
Ian Stirling
 Professor Stirling then detailed the significance of climate change for both the polar bear and its seal prey.


And the day finished with a panel event: the panel looked at humane killing of marine mammals - and in particular whether this (and welfare in particular) should be considered further by the SMM. On the panel - left to right: James Kirkwood of UFAW, Nick Gales (President-elect of the SMM), Sir Geoffrey Palmer (Ex-Prime Minister of New Zealand and New Zealand Commissioner to the IWC, Paul Jepson of ZSL and Diana Reiss.


It was agreed that the society would continue with its work on welfare.

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