New Challenges ahead in 2009

31st Jan 2008 This year has been an exceptional one for the IWDG. The involvement of the IWDG in research and conservation of cetaceans in Ireland has increased massively and would have stretched the groups resources if it wasn't for us being able to bring in new, experienced people to contribute to these projects.

The joint IWDG/GMIT project PReCAST started in February and will not only take the IWDG into unchartered offshore waters but will pioneer many new research techniques such as acoustic monitoring and satellite tracking. IWDG won two large contracts from the National Parks and Wildlife Service to survey harbour porpoises and other small cetaceans at eight sites around the entire coast. We have supported the Northern Ireland Environment Agency in their new and ambitous inshore cetacean monitoring programme. The Large Whale Survey has had huge success with an incredible number of fin and humpback whales occurring inshore this autumn and of course the sightings and images of blue whales in Ireland.

The IWDG newsletter has been re-designed and is now published three times a year under the name Miol Mor. We had a very successful conference, Muc Mhara, where the interest in, and awareness of, the harbour porpoise, Irelands' most widespread and abundant cetacean species was the topic of interest. The website continues to be a primary source of information on Irish cetaceans and we continue to comment on a range of activities which may impact on cetaceans and their habitats in Ireland.

Next year will bring new challenges. Our three-year project ISCOPE, which funds the IWDG Stranding and Sighting Schemes finishes in April and we are in negotiation with our funders on how to progres these essential schemes into the future. During 2009 we will be drafting a new five-year plan (2010-2014), which will chart the immediate future direction of the IWDG and we look forward to a significant input from our members.

The IWDG welcomed Conor Ryan and Sabine Springer to the IWDG Committee, to bring news ideas and energy to the engine behind the IWDG. As our turnover has increased significantly during 2008 we have recently appointed a book-keeper to maintain IWDG accounts for 2009. We have recently commissioned a review of IWDG structures and procedures to assist us in being as efficient and inclusive as possible. We hope these intiatives will ensure the IWDG is in good shape as we go into an uncertain future.

Here's hoping 2009 is kind to us all !!

Dr Simon Berrow,

IWDG Co-ordinator