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4th April - Whales in a Changing Ocean - Pacific Conference      


4th April 2017

Gathered in the Kingdom of Tonga today are delegates from around the Pacific discussing protection of the region's whales.

'Whales in a Changing Ocean' is a 3 day conference in the Tongan capital, Nuku Ľalofa, bringing together governments, scientists and NGOs to assess emerging threats to whales as our oceans and climate are changing.

On the agenda are threats such as marine debris, the fundamental challenges that whales will face with climate change and entanglement and bycatch in fisheries, deep sea mining and oil and gas exploration.

In opening the conference, the Tongan Minister for Fisheries The Hon Semisi Fakahau noted that Tonga gave up whaling and is now a leader in whale conservation. He says the conference will see Pacific island governments further establish themselves as a region that respects and cares for whales.

In his key note address the Acting Prime Minister of Tonga The Hon. Siaosi Sovaleni, remembered that commercial whaling reduced Tonga's humpback whales to a mere 50 individuals. Today, following the global moratorium on whaling and protection from the Kingdom of Tonga, the population exceeds 2000 and whale watching is a major contributor to the economy. He commented that it is a conservation success story but that whales face many more emerging threats.

It has been noted that Pacific island governments have declared national whale sanctuaries over 12 million square kilometres, including a new sanctuary for the waters of Tonga. 

“This conference is a unique opportunity for nations in the Pacific to be at the forefront of assessing emerging threats to whales from changes occurring in our oceans,” says Nicola Beynon, Head of Campaigns for HSI Australia. “It’s forums like these that bring a collaborative approach to ensuring whale conservation remains at the forefront of oceans policies in the region and globally.”

The findings will be put together to form a regional perspective for the landmark United Nations Oceans Conference to be held this June in New York.

Humane Society International is proud to be among the sponsors for the conference which is hosted by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme. Ms Beynon is attending the conference and is available for interviews.

For more information on the conference, please click here


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