Working Group on Marine Mammal Ecology



WGMMEWGMMETrueAnders Galatius, Anita GillesEPDSGagj@bios.au.dk, anita.gilles@tiho-hannover.de32Working Group on Marine Mammal Ecology

ICES Working Group on Marine Mammal Ecology (WGMME) provides scientific advice in relation to marine mammals.

​​​Annually, WGMME examines any new information on population sizes, population/stock structure and management frameworks for marine mammals and assess how these can contribute to the regulatory requirements of Contracting Parties. We also review information on anthropogenic impacts, including their mitigation, with a focus on bycatch (and in this respect linking with WGBYC) and, in particular, marine industries.

A good understanding of population structure is essential for both the conservation of species and the management of human activities that may affect those species. Many marine mammal species in the North Atlantic comprise a single population, the spatial scale of which is not conducive to the management of human activities. These populations therefore need to be subdivided for conservation and management purposes. The determination of population structure is based upon the integration of both genetic and ecological information. This evidence then needs integrating with the spatial and temporal scales of the human activities which influence them.  Integrating these different lines of evidence is a major challenge.

There has been a considerable volume of data collected globally concerning the main anthropogenic threats to marine mammals. Key current anthropogenic threats are considered to be hunting and whaling, fisheries interactions including mortality from accidental capture or entanglement (bycatch) and deliberate killing, vessel strikes, noise disturbance and other forms of habitat degradation or loss (e.g. pollution and coastal development), depletion of food resources through competition with fisheries, and anthropogenically mediated climate change. The working group reviews evidence and evaluates potential impacts and/or considers potential appropriate mitigation. Recent work has focused on bycatch (with ties to the Working Group on Bycatch of protected species, WGBYC) and the development of the marine renewable industry.

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