IUCN, whale experts and Sakhalin Energy Investment Company (Sakhalin Energy) are starting a second 5-year phase (2012-2016) of joint collaboration to protect the endangered population of western gray whales. Through this collaboration, a credible mechanism has been created in the last 5 years to reduce impacts of oil and gas development in the vicinity of Sakhalin Island, in northeastern Russia.
The western Pacific population of gray whale (Esrichtiius robustus) is one of only two surviving populations of this species in the world. Although historically both populations were brought near to extinction by commercial whaling and environmental disturbances, the eastern Pacific population has recovered substantially and now numbers about 20,000 individuals. By comparison, the western Pacific population, or western gray whale is still critically endangered, with only around 135 individuals left.
In 2006, IUCN convened a long-term independent scientific advisory panel (Western Gray Whale Advisory Panel - WGWAP) to provide advice, primarily at present to Sakhalin Energy, on how to minimize and mitigate the impacts of its Sakhalin II operations on gray whales. The company is planning to build a new offshore oil and gas platform in the coming years, potentially expanding its footprint, and making this continued collaboration with the conservation community even more important.
For more information, please contact:
Beatrice Riche, Logistics and Communications Officer, IUCN Global Marine and Polar Programme, e-mail: Beatrice.Riche@iucn.org
Olivier Hasinger, Marine Officer, IUCN Global Marine and Polar Programme, e-mail: Olivier.Hasinger@iucn.org