Progress report from the Arabian Sea Whale Network
G. Minton, R.C. Anderson, R. Baldwin, Y. Bohadi, S. Cerchio, T. Collins, R. al Lawati, M. Shoaib Kiani, N. Manickam, M. Moazzam1, N. Mohsenian, H. Moshiri, R. Nanayakkara, A. Natoli, S.A. Razzaque, H. Rosenbaum, H. al Sayegh, D. Sutaria, et al.
The Arabian Sea Whale Network (ASWN) is an informal collaboration of researchers and conservation bodies interested in the conservation of whale populations throughout the Northern Indian Ocean. Formed in 2015, the Arabian Sea humpback whale acts as a flagship species, but members collaborate on all aspects of cetacean research and conservation. This progress report includes updates on regional-level collaborative activities undertaken between May 2021 and April 2022, as well as updates on project- by project or national level activities undertaken by partners in the region. Regional level activities have been limited due to the lack of funding for coordination, as well as world events that demand more immediate attention. In particular, there has been little progress on the formal establishment of a joint CMS-IWC Conservation Management Plan. However, ASWN members are in regular communication and provide continued technical support to each other. The project updates from partners demonstrate a clear trend toward increased capacity for systematic cetacean research in most ASWN member countries, with a number of peer-reviewed publications emerging from the region over the past year. The updates also demonstrate how many ASWN partners are applying knowledge gained from cetacean research to outreach, awareness raising, threat-mitigation and engagement with the relevant stakeholders responsible for conservation policy and management. These efforts will help to progress conservation-management throughout the region until such time as an effective regional conservation management plan can finally be implemented.