Story | 11 Dec, 2018

Dr Randall Reeves to continue leading advisory panel on industry development impacts

Dr Randall Reeves has been re-appointed by IUCN as Chair of the Western Gray Whale Advisory Panel (WGWAP), which provides independent advice on the impacts of offshore oil and gas development on gray whales and their habitat. He plans to continue leading the scientific panel through 2021.

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Dr Randall Reeves 

Photo: Randall Reeves

Dr Reeves has been engaged in marine mammal research and conservation for more than 40 years and has over 150 peer-reviewed publications on marine mammals, including gray whales. He is a long-time member of the International Whaling Commission’s Scientific Committee and received the Kenneth S. Norris Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society for Marine Mammalogy in 2017.

“I am very much looking forward to the next chapter of the Panel under Dr Reeves’s strong scientific leadership,” said Inger Andersen, IUCN Director General. “As a well-known global authority on cetaceans with excellent standing in the conservation community and deep knowledge on the subject matter, I am fully confident he is the right person to steer the Panel in the direction that continues both to deliver advice to Sakhalin Energy and other interested parties under the current mandate and to define the panel’s future post-2021”.

Dr Reeves has chaired IUCN panels on western gray whales, including the WGWAP, since 2004 and he has also chaired the Cetacean Specialist Group of IUCN’s Species Survival Commission since 1996. In addition, he has led other expert bodies, including the US Marine Mammal Commission’s Committee of Scientific Advisers, the marine mammal specialists group of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, and various ad-hoc cross-disciplinary teams to address, for example, Mekong dolphin conservation in Cambodia (in collaboration with WWF) and humpback dolphin conservation in Hong Kong (in collaboration with Ocean Park Conservation Foundation).

“Nature conservation has long been my central interest and I have had the privilege to be closely involved in developing and nurturing IUCN’s independent scientific review concept, as applied to a large-scale offshore energy project,“ added Dr Reeves. “I am honoured to have been appointed to lead the WGWAP and look forward to continue working with all parties involved to minimize impacts of industry development on gray whales.”

For the next three years, the Chair’s responsibilities include:

  • establishment of the Panel’s annual programme of work and recruitment of necessary expertise;
  • leadership of the Panel and output delivery;
  • integration of the Panel’s expertise and experience into relevant processes at range-wide level, including revision and implementation of the IWC/IUCN Conservation Management Plan and the Range-state Memorandum of Cooperation Concerning Conservation Measures for the Western Gray Whale Population.

Dr Reeves has been selected through a rigorous open and competitive process. The selection of the WGWAP Chair was carried out by a Candidate Evaluation Committee, established by IUCN’s Director General and composed of senior representatives of IUCN Members, Commissions and the Secretariat, operating in line with relevant IUCN Policies and Procedures and the WGWAP Terms of Reference.

For the last 14 years, the WGWAP has been managed by IUCN as an independent scientific advisory body. The overall goal of the WGWAP is to provide objective advice on the conservation of western gray whales with a focus on those that feed off Sakhalin Island, just north of Japan.

The core principles for such IUCN panels are independence, transparency, accountability and engagement.