ICMMPA 3 had two main goals (1) to highlight the challenges of place and size for protected areas that feature or include marine mammals, and (2) to explore the use of a new tool for conservation — the important marine mammal area, or IMMA, designation which the closely associated IUCN Marine Mammal Protected Areas Task Force has been developing.
The ICMMPA 3 Proceedings call for an enhanced mission for the Task Force and the International Committee on Marine Mammal Protected Areas to work with managers and communities to engage more stakeholders in marine mammal habitat protection and keep them engaged.
“Marine mammal protected areas, or MMPAs, can give the public a stake in what happens in the sea,” says ICMMPA Chair Naomi McIntosh, who is with NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and served as the former superintendent of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. “Indeed, without that involvement, it is difficult to create successful MMPAs.”
“With the prospect of work on the IMMAs, too,” says WDC research fellow Erich Hoyt, who edited the ICMMPA 3 Proceedings, “although the selection of such areas is seen as a scientific process, gaining acceptance and traction for IMMAs, in terms of using them as tools for conservation, will depend on connecting people with the ocean — not just nearshore waters but offshore waters and the great expanse of the high seas. We urgently need to build these connections.”