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WCC 2020 Res 094 - Progress Report

General information
IUCN Constituencies implementing this Resolution
IUCN Members: 
Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, Republic of Korea ( MOF ) / Korea (RK)
IUCN Commissions: 
IUCN Species Survival Commission 2021-2025 (SSC)
IUCN Secretariat: 
Other non-IUCN related organisations: 
Osan University
Indicate which actions have been carried out to implement this Resolution : 
Convene stakeholders/Networking
Policy influencing/advocacy
Describe the results/achievements of the actions taken: 
Two meetings have been held to promote regional collaboration between a wide range of stakeholders. The first was held virtually on November 25th, 2020. It was organised and hosted by the Korean Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries and WWF Korea. This meeting included participation from scientists and policy makers from Japan and China, as well as scientists from around the world with expertise in bycatch reduction. The second meeting was held on September 23rd, 2022. It was a hybrid conference, hosted at the Chungcheongnam do Provincial Government, organised by Osan University and funded by the Ministry of Fisheries, Republic of Korea. This second meeting had both in-person participation from regional stakeholders and online participation from speakers around the world. Participants included scientists, policy makers, and representatives of Civil Society Organisations. Presentations ranged from technical presentations on ongoing Narrow-ridged finless porpoise (NRFP) population and status assessments in different range countries and bycatch mitigation trials, to presentations focusing on increasing public awareness and support for conserving the species and reducing bycatch. Discussions included the importance of range countries fulfilling the actions recommended in Resolution 094 as well as the additional incentive to reduce NRFP bycatch presented by the United States Marine Mammal Protection Act Import Ruling. The organisers of this second conference intend to build on the momentum of the conference by inviting regional stakeholders to form a Working Group that will focus on implementing the resolution. The IUCN SSC Cetacean Specialist Group supported the organisation and delivery of both meetings, and has had regular meetings with the Korean Member Focal Point for Motion 094, who has lead the efforts to organise both conferences and to form the regional working group.These two meetings have created vital links and inspired ongoing dialogue between government agencies, scientists, and civil society organisations in the three narrow-ridged finless porpoise range countries. The knowledge exchanged in 2020 helped to catalyse more research into population status and trends, as well as trialling of porpoise excluder devices on the fishing gears that are associated with the highest levels of porpoise bycatch. Stakeholders involved in these meetings are also working within each range country to raise public awareness and institutional support for bycatch reduction. This public awareness will be critical if any market-based incentives to reduce bycatch are to be trialled.


Achievements overview - The key proponents and coordinators of the Resolution, now working through the NGO Plan Ocean, have followed up on several activities in 2022-2023. The collaborative efforts for NRFP conservation have resulted in significant achievements. A working group comprising researchers, NGOs, and policymakers from Korea, China, and Japan has been established, focusing on scientific research, policy-making, and public awareness. Meetings with fishing communities in the South and Western seas of Korea have provided insights into the challenges of bycatch and highlighted the importance of NRFP conservation. Utilizing unmanned drones and line transect surveys since 2019, researchers have assessed NRFP populations and expanded their understanding of marine ecosystems through acoustics research. Plan Ocean conducted necropsies on NRFP specimens, revealing causes of death and studying various aspects such as biology, habitat, and pollution. The National Institute of Fisheries Science's development of excluder devices for stow nets shows progress, with ongoing efforts to address concerns raised by fishing communities. These actions collectively contribute to a comprehensive and collaborative approach toward NRFP conservation

Details on activity implementation

Capacity-building: The Plan Ocean team works closely with veterinary universities and provides capacity-building for veterinarians and university students to enable them to conduct necropsies and understand pathologies typically affecting NRFPs and other cetaceans.
Convene stakeholders/Networking: A collaborative working group has been established for the conservation of NRFPs, comprising researchers, NGOs, and policymakers from Korea, China, and Japan. Each subgroup within this collaboration is dedicated to advancing scientific research, policy-making, and public awareness and education. Upcoming schedules organised by the Korean Ministry of Fisheries (MOF) include an online meeting set for July, followed by a conference and face-to-face meetings in Seoul this September.

Education/Communication/Raising awareness: Three meetings were set up with members of the fishing communities in Korea's South and Western seas, particularly with those who have experienced frequent bycatch during the autumn of 2022. These meetings aimed to gather crucial insights and information directly from the affected communities regarding the challenges they faced with bycatch. Furthermore, the meetings provided an opportunity to engage in constructive dialogue surrounding the importance and advantages of NRFP (Natural Resources Forest Protected) conservation.

Field activities: Since 2019, unmanned drones (UAV) and line transect surveys have been utilized for population studies in Korea's south and western seas. This approach has enabled researchers to assess and analyze NRFP populations. Moreover, since 2022, dedicated efforts have been directed toward conducting acoustics research in select areas, further enhancing our understanding of marine ecosystems. As the years have progressed, the scope of area coverage has expanded significantly, fueling plans for future expansion to facilitate even more extensive and comprehensive data collection.

Policy influencing/advocacy: Korean stakeholders are collaborating with policymakers to assess the feasibility of designating new protected areas for NRFP. Officials at the City of Yeosu are actively engaged in discussions with key stakeholders to designate nearby waters Korea's second NRFP protected area while addressing logistical considerations. In parallel, MOF Korea is formulating collaborative strategies for cities along the South and Western coasts to unite their efforts in preserving NRFPs, fostering a collective approach towards conservation.

Scientific/technical activities: Fisheries gear developers working with the National Institute of Fisheries Science, a science-oriented subsidiary under the Ministry of Fisheries in Korea, are designing and testing porpoise excluder devices that are installed on stow nets - the gear most responsible for finless porpoise bycatch. The initial trial results were presented to the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission meeting in April/May 2023. The same team is testing the effectiveness of acoustic deterrents (pingers) on stownets to reduce bycatch. Plan Ocean is collaborating with Universities and other research teams to conduct line transect surveys, augmented by drones, to assess the distribution and abundance of narrow-ridged finless porpoises (NRFP). They have also collaborated with the relevant government authorities to gain access to NRFP carcasses and conduct necropsies. Most examined carcasses bore signs of death caused by suffocation/drowning due to entanglement in fishing gear. The necropsies also revealed microplastics and BPA in the GI tracts and the presence of DDTs and PCBs. Finally, the team is also using underwater video to try and monitor porpoise behavior around stownets to understand better how excluder devices are working and could be improved.
What challenges/obstacles have been encountered in the implementation of this Resolution and how were they overcome : 
The range country stakeholders report that in China the Chinese White Dolphin and the Yangtze finless porpoise receive greater attention from both the government agencies responsible for conservation and the general public. They are working to raise the profile of NRFP as well.

Update 2023
The resolution receives support from ROK authorities but additional efforts and strategies need to be undertaken to engage Chinese and Japanese authorities. Funds remain an issue to achieve the regional ambition proposed by the Resolution.
Briefly describe what future actions are needed for the implementation of this Resolution: 
Convene stakeholders/Networking: A regional multi-stakeholder working group will be formed to focus on implementing the different elements of Resolution 094.
Education/Communication/Raising awareness: The group based in Osan University has plans and funding to engage in education and awareness raising activities in Korea.
Scientific/technical activities: Ongoing research to monitor populations of narrow-ridged finless porpoises.

Several opportunities and activities have been planned for the next period. They include the continuous implementaiton of awareness, capacity building and field activities. The organisation of a Regional Symposium in September 2023 in Seoul is underway. A possible side event at the World Coastal Forum (Yancheng, China in September 2023) is in the plans. The opportunity to bring awareness on the resolution to IUCN members during the tripartite meeting of members from China, ROK and Japan in September 2023 in Seoul is also being considered. The resolutions proponent will also enjoy communcation opportunities provided by the IUCN Secretariat to share awareness about the resolution. Possible funding from MOJ japan will be explored by IUCN ARO. A stronger coordination with IUCN ARO has been initiated to receive more support from the IUCN Secretariat
Are these actions planned for yet: 
Status of implementation
Status of implementation for this Resolution: 
Underway: implementation well-advanced
Additional information