The work of NAMMCO and its committees is usually initiated in response to requests for advice or information from member Countries, endorsed by Council and forwarded to the relevant committee(s).
The scientists and experts advising NAMMCO spend a lot of time in the field, participating in conferences and workshops and have an extended professional network outside NAMMCO. They may become aware of conservation issues that have not yet been addressed by NAMMCO or advances in technologies that are relevant. Proposals concerning future work can be forwarded to the Council, which in response, may charge the relevant committee to consider the issue, so further action can be implemented if necessary.
In that way, NAMMCO acts as a watchdog for marine mammal conservation and welfare improvement. This further ensures that the use of marine mammal resources continues in a sustainable and most responsible way.
Examples of concerns raised by the NAMMCO Scientific Committee
- The presence of a new seal species in Greenland from 2009, grey seals, of which the protection status needed to be considered quickly
- The potential impact by-catch could have on the conservation of some species. Including to treat by-catch induced mortality in the same way as hunting induced mortality and assess the extent, so both forms of non-natural mortality could be included in population modelling
- The evolving/changing geographical distribution of some species, as well as the new accessibility for hunters of stocks previously protected by their remoteness (for example harbour seals in Greenland), both likely due to climate change
- The lack of abundance data on some hunted species in some areas
- The potential impact on conservation of potential disturbances due to increased activities in important areas (e.g., shipping, noise, whale watching) and the cumulative and possibly synergistic impact of these stressors