Wednesday, 29 April 2009

IUCN welcomes reprieve for whales

IUCN is delighted that Sakhalin Energy followed the advice of an expert panel and stopped all seismic surveys affecting the Western Gray Whale.

The Western Gray Whale Advisory Panel, set up by IUCN, recommended on Friday that all oil and gas companies working just off Sakhalin Island in eastern Russia stop any activity that might harm the whales.

“The fact that Sakhalin Energy decided to listen to the Western Gray Whale Advisory Panel is excellent,” said Finn Larsen, of IUCN’s Global Marine Programme. We are now calling on all other oil and gas companies operating in the same area to follow Sakhalin Energy’s lead and make the right decision for the sake of these magnificent creatures.”

There are only an estimated 120 Western Gray Whales left in the world, with 25 to 35 reproductive females. The whales come to feed in the waters off Sakhalin Island in summer and autumn, in preparation for the breeding season.

The Western Gray Whale Advisory Panel said it is extremely concerned by observations in 2008 suggesting whale distribution and behaviour have changed.

It concluded that all activities planned for 2009, including Sakhalin Energy’s seismic survey, should be postponed until the Western Gray Whale population has been fully monitored and assessed.

It added that if the monitoring in 2009 reduces the uncertainty and concern over the Western Gray Whale population, the panel may be able to accept a seismic survey in 2010.

For more information about the Western Gray Whale Advisory Panel, please visit:

For media enquiries, please contact:

Sarah Horsley, IUCN Media Relations Officer, t +41 22 999 0127, m +41 79 528 3486, e