26 March 2010

European Cetacean Society Conference 2010

The 24th annual Conference of the European Cetacean Society has just ended. It was held in the UNESCO world heritage city of Stralsund, Germany, which had already hosted a ECS Conference in 1997.

This last venue was extremely successful, being attended by 450 people from 34 Countries. In total, 43 talks were given and 188 posters presented.

The Conference theme was "Marine Mammal Populations: challenges for conservation in the next decade" and invited speakers included Bernd Würsig (talking about "Endangered cetacean population worldwide"), Christina Lockyer ("Conservation and management of marine mammals: are they compatible issues at regional and global ecosystem levels?"), and Alexander Proelß ("Protection of cetaceans under national and European law: impact of the habitats directive in the common fisheries policy"). During his speech, Prof. Würsig publicly thanked the President of Tethys Giovanni Bearzi for his help in the preparation of the talk and, most importantly, for his contributions to cetacean research and conservation.

The Conference was preceded by two days of workshops:

- Cetacean by-catch: effectiveness of current mitigation measures and possible improvements in the future;

- C-PODs;

- Marine mammal morphology;

- Static acoustic monitoring of the Baltic Sea harbour porpoise;

- Fixed transect surveys for cetaceans on ferries and other research platforms: best practice and collaboration on research and policy applications;

- GIS Student Workshop;

- Pile driving in offshore wind-farms: effects on harbour porpoise, mitigation measures and standards;

- White-beaked and white-sided dolphins: two North Atlantic species in their environment.

The workshops, the Conference, the video night and the closing night took place at the German Oceanographic Museum, the Theatre of Stralsund, the old brewery and the Ozeaneum.

During the video night, one of the most moving documents was presented by Sandro Mazzariol, University of Padua, on the recent mass stranding of 7 sperm whales in the Gargano Peninsula of Italy.

As always, the dinner and dance were popular events which were held in the magnificent hall of the Ozeaneum, where life-size reconstructions of a blue whale, a sperm whale, two humpback whales and a killer whale can be admired.

The next ECS Conference will be held in Cadiz (Spain) in 2011.

Elisa Remonato

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