ICMMPA Daily Log
Day One – March 30, 2009

More than 200 managers and researchers from 40 countries gathered in Wailea, Maui, Hawai`i for the First International Conference on Marine Mammal Protected Area Conference (ICMMPA). The primary focus of ICMMPA is on highly mobile cetaceans with the theme of “making connections.” The conference, co-sponsored by NOAA’s Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary and NOAA Fisheries’ Office of International Affairs, runs through Friday afternoon.


An opening ceremony and traditional Hawaiian blessing by Kumu Pono Murray reminded the participants that humans and marine mammals are inextricably linked. Welcoming remarks were made by the Mayor of Maui, the Honorable Charmaine Tavares, Donna Petrachenko, First Assistant Secretary of the Marine Division within the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts and Australia’s Commissioner to the International Whaling Commission and Jack Dunnigan, Assistant Administrator for NOAA’s National Ocean Service.

The conference got off to a great start at its first symposium: Designing Marine Mammal Protected Areas (MMPAs) and MMPA Networks.

The session featured talks by:

Erich Hoyt, Senior Research Fellow, Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society,UK;

Brad Barr, Senior Policy Advisor, NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries;

Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara, Honorary President, Tethys Research Institution, Milano, Italy;

Ricardo Sagarminaga, ALNITAK Marine Research and Education Centre, Spain;

Trevor Ward, Greenward Consulting, Perth, WA, Australia, and;

Irini Papanicolopulu, University of Milano-Bicocca, Milan, Italy.

The presenters discussed the need for the establishment of networks of marine mammal protected areas, including specific examples of successful efforts, the legal framework behind them, the science, planning and stakeholder input necessary and the challenges faced by marine resources managers. “Networks [of protected areas] can compensate for ‘too small’ MMPAs. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” said Erich Hoyt, referring to the fact that many marine mammals, including humpback whales, travel great distances annually. Hoyt suggested that “humpback whales may be the original networkers in the Pacific.” Brad Barr urged participants to “think network” by seeking out the advice and inviting the participation of colleagues from around the globe.

Panel 1: David Mattila convened a panel to discuss “Marine Mammal Research within MPAs and the Link to Networking”.


Many agree that good management and education should be founded on good science. The purpose of convening this panel was to share new or innovative tools or approaches in marine mammal research that covered a broad spectrum of geography, species, and costs. The panelists shared their experiences, research challenges and management issues. Although they used very different approaches and methodologies, common messages included the rewards of being creative, being flexible and the value of gathering good data before making management decisions. Panel convener David Mattilla said, “Our purpose was to share a wide range of ideas about how people have gotten the job done with the hope of stimulating thought and encouraging continued thinking outside the box.” (link to video interview)

Participants of the panel included Liz Slooten – Department of Zoology, University of Otago, NZ, Leila Hatch – Marine Ecologist, NOAA’s Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, USA, Sascha Hooke – Sea Mammal Research Unit, UK; Rob Williams – Marine Mammal Research Unit, University of British Columbia, Canada, Ana Canadas – Research Director of Alintak, Spain, Mabel Augustowski – Environmental Department of Sap Paulo Government, Brasil, Rubaiyat Mansur Mowgli – Bangladesh Cetacean Diversity Project for Wildlife Conservation Society, Bangladesh, Vincent Ridoux – Institute of Littoral and Environmental Sciences, University of Rochelle, France and David Mattila – Science and Rescue Coordinator, NOAA’s Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, USA.


The first day’s final session was Panel 2: Whaling and Whale Sanctuaries: conflicts and Synergies

Speakers included:

Arne Bjorge, Chair, IWC Scientific Committee, Norway

Jose’ Truda Palazzo, Jr., IWC Commissioner from Brazil

Doug DeMaster, IWC Deputy Commissioner, USA

Christophe Lefebrvre, AAMP and IUCN, France

Lui Bell, SPREP, Pacific, Samoa

Mike Donoghue, New Zealand IWC delegation

Irini Papanicolopulu, University of Milano-Biocca, Italy

The panel discussed the International Whaling Commission (IWC) whaling sanctuaries, positives and challenges of whale sanctuaries, how the IWC can better contribute to whale sanctuaries and the international legal framework of whaling sanctuaries. It was noted that the IWC membership consists of both pro-whaling and non-whaling countries. The IWC is currently impaired by disagreements over a number of issues. Hidden agendas remain to be an obstacle for reaching consensus of three-quarters majority. Two proposals for the establishment of sanctuaries in the South Atlantic and South Pacific have failed to achieve the majority. The group discussed the future of International Whaling Sanctuaries and provided examples of other international marine mammal protected areas.

Calling IWC a “living fossil,” Jose’ Truda Palazzo, Jr. said that the future of IWC as an international organization that promotes cooperative management is up to people “on the ground.” Among management tools that the commission has provided is whale sanctuaries. The sanctuary proposal has become a priority in finding a way forward for the IWC, along with management cooperation and non-lethal science.