Stop all oil and gas activities that could harm Western Gray Whales, says panel

24 April 2009 | International news release

An independent panel of scientists has recommended a moratorium on all activities by oil and gas companies in eastern Russia that could adversely affect the Western Gray Whale population.

The Western Gray Whale Advisory Panel, set up by IUCN in 2005, said it is extremely concerned by observations in 2008 suggesting whale distribution and behaviour have changed.

The panel has therefore concluded that all activities planned for 2009, including Sakhalin Energy’s seismic survey, should be postponed until the Western Gray Whale population has been fully monitored and assessed.

If the monitoring in 2009 reduces the uncertainty and concern over the Western Gray Whale population, the panel may be able to accept a seismic survey in 2010.

The panel added that its recommendations in no way reflect dissatisfaction with the work of its Seismic Survey Task Force or with the co-operation given to the panel by Sakhalin Energy.

The panel said Western Gray Whales in this area are affected by the activities of all companies in the region. It is calling for all companies to abide by a moratorium on all activities until clarification of the current situation has been reached.

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