Irish Cetacean Research Seminar-Report

26th Feb 2007 In June 2006 the IWDG organised an Irish Cetacean Research Seminar in collaboration with the Marine Institute and the National Parks and Wildlife Service. The aims of the seminar were:

1. To present data and results from research initiatives on the distribution of whales and dolphins in Irish waters.

2. To obtain feedback on recording schemes from partners in Ireland

3. To bring together the cetacean research community in Ireland to discuss future survey requirements and the creation of a Joint Irish Cetacean Sightings database

Over 80 people attended the seminar from a range of government departments and agencies including Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Environment and Heritage Service, Joint Nature Conservancy Council, Marine Institute, National Parks and Wildlife Service, third level institutes (University College, Cork, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Sligo Institute of Technology and the University of Central Lancashire) and NGOs (Coastwatch, ISPCA, Irish Seal Sanctuary) as well as many Irish Whale and Dolphin Group members and recorders. A report of the seminar is attached for your interest.

The main proposal was to try and establish a Joint Irish Cetacean Database in order to utilise more efficiently current datasets on the distribution and relative abundance of cetaceans in Irish waters. In order to fulfill monitoring requirements under the EU Habitats Directive it is essential to create accurate maps of the distribution and abundance of cetaceans in the Irish EEZ. This database could also be used to explore the factors influencing this distribution and assist in identifying critical habitats. This database would form the basis of monitoring of all cetacean species in Irish water to the EEZ.

A proposal by the IWDG was circulated to relevant groups in October 2006 and on Friday 23 February 2007 a meeting was held in the Marine Institute to progress the proposal. At this meeting the National Parks and Wildlife Service stated that they want a joint cetacean database and are prepared to fund its creation. They have also expressed a preference for the National Biodiversity Data Centre to carry out this work and host the database. A number of issues regarding database requirements, access and identifying end users were raised. The NPWS are to draft a scoping document on these requirements and consult with relevant partners.

This is an important initiative towards creating an effective monitoring programme for all cetaceans in Irish waters and improving our understanding of the factors driving their distribution.

We would like to thank all those who attended and/or contributed to the seminar and the aims of the IWDG and hope for your continued support.

A report on the seminar can be downloaded from Click Here (117KB)

Simon Berrow

IWDG Co-ordinator