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Management of Antarctic baleen whales amid past exploitation, current threats and complex marine ecosystems

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 October 2011

Rebecca Leaper*
Affiliation:
Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Locked Bag 49, Hobart, TAS 7001, Australia
Cara Miller
Affiliation:
School of Biological Sciences, Flinders University, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, Australia Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society International, PO Box 228, Suva, Fiji Islands Institute of Marine Resources, Laucala Campus, University of the South Pacific, Fiji Islands

Abstract

As baleen whales recover from severe exploitation, they are probably subject to a wide variety of threats within the Antarctic marine ecosystem, including directed take. Here we review both the management and current status of Antarctic baleen whales and consider those threats likely to impact on them. Threats range from global problems - marine pollution and climate change - to localized issues including shipping, habitat disturbance, unregulated wildlife tourism and fishery activities. We identify the most pressing anthropogenic threats to baleen whales including scientific whaling and climate change. It is unclear whether current management approaches will be able to effectively encompass all these threats while also accounting both for the differing levels of scientific understanding and for the differing recovery rates of the whale species. For management we recommend the following: 1) incorporation of both ecosystem considerations and the suite of identified threats not limited to direct take, 2) identification of measurable indicators of changes in whales that allow more certainty in monitoring of populations and the environment, and 3) recognition of significant relationships between baleen whales and habitat features to provide information on distribution and use.

Type
Review
Copyright
Copyright © Antarctic Science Ltd 2011

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