Freshwater small cetaceans in Asia - current situation and role of a potential IWC Conservation Management Plan
Uzma Khan, Daphne Willems, Annie Robinson and Lindsay Porter
International Whaling Commission
This paper aims to build a case for an International Whaling Commission (IWC) Conservation Management Plan (CMP) encompassing three species of Asian freshwater small cetaceans, and requests advice from the Scientific Committee on whether these are ???priority populations??? for CMP development. There are five extant species of small cetaceans that are found in freshwater globally. Three of these occur in Asian rivers: the South Asian river dolphin, Irrawaddy dolphin and the narrow ridged finless porpoise (also known as Yangtze finless porpoise). All these species/populations are under serious threat and categorized either as ???endangered??? or critically endangered??? under the IUCN Red List. Their distribution is highly fragmented and threatened by many anthropogenic factors described in this paper. Governmental ownership is critical for the future of the Asian freshwater small cetaceans, as decisions and policy frameworks of governments are directly impacting the species. A CMP for these species under the IWC will help in increasing political support towards augmenting conservation efforts and will act as a guiding document for responsible decision making.