Large cetaceans of the Pelagos Sanctuary: disentanglement training

The Pelagos Agreement, in cooperation with the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and the Coast Guard – Maritime Directorate of Genoa, organised a training on 16 and 17 May 2023 in Genoa, on the rescue of marine mammals, in particular large cetaceans that entangle in fishing gear in the Pelagos Sanctuary.

This was the first tripartite training provided to the operational units* of the three countries Parties to the Agreement, as part of the new Pelagos Agreement Management Plan and associated Action Plan 2022-2027.

The training opened with welcome greetings from Captain of the Sea (CP) Giovanni Stella, Commander in 2nd of the Genoa Harbour Master’s Office, and was conducted by Mr. David Mattila and Mr. Bob Lynch, experts from the “IWC Global Whale Entanglement Response Network”, an international network that has trained approximately 1300 operators in 36 countries.

The first day focused on a presentation of the cetacean populations affected by the issue, illustrations of case studies, and in-depth discussions on intervention methods and their simulation on land.

The second day saw the participants engaged in exercises at sea aimed at practising and perfecting the techniques learnt in the classroom (approach manoeuvres, use of tools to facilitate proximity with the animal, removal of gear, etc.).

An intervention toolkit will be made available to each member country of the Agreement in order to stimulate the use of common technical tools and the harmonisation of intervention procedures.

This is an important example of cooperation between the operational units of the three member countries of the Agreement, the launch of which was made possible thanks to the willingness and voluntary contribution of the Italian Party to the “Pelagos Voluntary Fund”.

The participants expressed their enthusiasm for the work carried out and the hope that it may be followed by new opportunities for updating and training in favour of the development of a network specialised in rescue of large cetaceans inhabiting the Pelagos Sanctuary.

*The training was attended by representatives from:

– the Corpo della Guardia Costiera – Maritime Directorate of Genoa, Livorno, Cagliari and Olbia for Italy;

– the Gendarmerie maritime of Nice and Toulon for France;

– the Direction des Affaires Maritimes for the Principality of Monaco.

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