“Restoring Ocean Health” was one of the seven main themes at the IUCN World Conservation Congress that came to a close in Marseille last month. The current climate emergency and the future of our oceans are interlinked, as climate change directly affects the oceans’ temperature and pH levels. Changes in water temperature and ocean acidification directly impact the diversity of marine life, and jeopardise the ecosystems which people depend on.
In order to contribute to the resilience of marine ecosystems and the communities dependent upon them, IUCN Save Our Species has announced funding for a project in 2021 to protect the Critically Endangered North Atlantic Right Whale under our Lacoste x IUCN Save Our Species initiative.
The project aims to save this Critically Endangered mammal form extinction by creating incentives for lobster and crab fisheries to embrace whale-safe practices. It aims to significantly alleviate the threats of entanglement to Right Whales, reduce the mortality rates from entanglement by the end of 2023, and eventually eliminate entanglement-caused deaths completely.
Accidental capture by fisheries is one of the reasons marine species such as whales and dolphins are rapidly decreasing in numbers. One of the motions voted at Congress aims to implement policies and work with all kinds of stakeholders in order to reduce or eliminate bycatch of marine animals by 2023. Another asks states to reinforce protected areas for the most highly threatened marine mammals.
In 2020, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species downgraded the North Atlantic Right Whale from Endangered to Critically Endangered, declaring it was one step closer to extinction. Indeed, warmer sea temperatures are pushing them further north, where they are more exposed to the risks of bycatch.