Between the 8th and 22nd of May 2017, the 67th meeting of the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission was held in Bled, Slovenia. During this year’s meeting, many topics were discussed including aspects related to abundance estimates and stock assessments of large baleen whales, cetacean species subject under Conservation Management Plans, Small Cetaceans, Environmental concerns, Whale watching, baleen whales of the Northern and Southern hemisphere and various other things, all in the relevant sub-committees.
Whalefish co-founder Dr Els Vermeulen participated in the meetings as part of the Belgian Delegation, and with a special interest related to the work she conducts in South Africa on southern right whales. As such, Els presented a report on the 2016 southern right whale photo-identification aerial surveys that have been conducted in South Africa since 1979. This report showed a clear decrease in southern right whale presence along the coast of South Africa in the past years. In view of this apparent change, the Scientific Committee strongly recommended a continuation of this exemplary long-term monitoring programme, encouraging scientists to research in detail the current situation of the species in South African waters. Els will report the results of such research to the scientific committee in 2018. In general, the meetings were a success. It is amazing to witness the gathering of some of the most brilliant brains in the marine mammal science world achieving great advances in some very complex and sometimes delicate matters related to the conservation of the whales in the world.