History of Engagement

Western Grey Whale Conservation Initiative - Timeline of Events

  • August 2004 – Request by Sakhalin Energy Investment Company Ltd. (SEIC) to IUCN to form an Independent Science Review Panel (ISRP) to evaluate Phase 2 of the Sakhalin II Project
  • ISRP 1 – September 6-8, 2004 in Toronto, Canada
  • ISRP 2 – October 2-7, 2004 in Yuzhno, Sakhalin Island, Russian Federation
  • ISRP 3 – November 6-8, 2004 in Sausalito, California, USA
  • ISRP 4 – January 27-31, 2005 in Seattle, Washington, USA
  • February 16, 2005 - ISRP  report published
  • May 11 & 12, 2005 – “The Follow-up Workshop” in Gland, Switzerland
  • September 17-19, 2005 – “The Lenders Workshop” in Vancouver, Canada
  • April 3-5, 2006 – Interim Independent Scientist Group (IISG) Workshop
  • October 2, 2006 – Western Gray Whale Advisory Panel (WGWAP) established
  • WGWAP 1 – November 9-11, 2006 in Prangins, Switzerland
  • WGWAP 2 – April 15-18, 2007 in St. Petersburg, Russian Federation
  • WGWAP 3 – November 10-13, 2007 in Lausanne, Switzerland
  • WGWAP 4 – April 22-25, 2008 in Lausanne, Switzerland
  • WGWAP 5 – December 2-6, 2008 in Lausanne, Switzerland
  • WGWAP 6 – April 21-24, 2009 in Geneva, Switzerland
  • WGWAP 7 – December 11-14, 2009 in Geneva, Switzerland
  • WGWAP 8 – April 16-18, 2010 in Geneva, Switzerland 
  • WGWAP 9 – December 4-6, 2010 in Geneva, Switzerland
  • WGWAP 10 – May 13-15, 2011 in Geneva, Switzerland
  • WGWAP 11 – February 12-14, 2012 in Geneva, Switzerland
  • WGWAP 12 – November 5-7, 2012 in Busan, Republic of Korea
  • WGWAP 13 – May 15-17, 2013 in Tokyo, Japan
  • WGWAP-14 – September 29-October 1, 2014 in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russian Federation
  • WGWAP-15 – December 8-9, 2014, virtual Panel teleconference 
  • WGWAP Working Meeting - April 27-29, 2015 in Gland, Switzerland
  • WGWAP-16 – November 22-24, 2015 in Moscow, Russian Federation 

The status of the critically endangered Western Gray Whale is a major concern for marine scientists, environmental organizations, as well as Sakhalin Energy and its potential international lenders.

In response to widespread concerns, and at the request of Sakhalin Energy, in 2004 IUCN convened the Independent Scientific Review Panel (ISRP) to evaluate the science around the western gray whales and provide advice to Sakhalin Energy. The ISRP met four times before completing its report (see ISRP Report 1), which was published by IUCN on February 16, 2005.

Subsequently, in May 2005, IUCN convened the Follow-up Workshop to provide Sakhalin Energy with feedback on their response to the ISRP Report and to contribute to the potential international lenders’ understanding of that response. One of the main recommendations of the Gland workshop was the establishment of a long-term scientific advisory panel.

In September 2005, at the request of the potential international lenders for the Sakhalin-II project, the Lenders’ Workshop was convened in Vancouver, Canada. At that time, some of the issues raised in the ISRP report were judged as resolved or moot, but numerous others were deferred for further consideration and resolution by a planned long-term advisory body, the Western Gray Whale Advisory Panel (WGWAP). The meeting in Vancouver reaffirmed the proposal for establishing a permanent body, and suggested a framework for the purpose. Following the Lenders’ Workshop, IUCN received and agreed to a request by Sakhalin Energy to convene the WGWAP.

When it became evident that the WGWAP was not going to be established in time to review Sakhalin Energy’s plans for gray whale protection and monitoring during the 2006 construction season, IUCN decided to convene the Interim Independent Scientists Group (IISG) Workshop to bridge the gap. The IISG Workshop was held on 3-5 April 2006 in Vancouver.

At that meeting, the IISG concluded that the modus operandi of the WGWAP should shift from the reactive or review-only approach of the previous panels, to a more proactive approach. This would mean that the deliberations and meetings of the WGWAP would be timed and organized to allow it, not only to assess, comment on, and develop recommendations from documents produced by Sakhalin Energy and other participating companies, but also to prescribe the types of research and monitoring needed for adequate Western Gray Whale protection.

IUCN finally established the WGWAP on 2 October 2006. The panel has been convened for an initial period of five years, with an extention for another period of five years, with the possibility of futher extension.

Other links: Sakhalin Energy website


Sakhalin Waters

Sakhalin Waters

Photo: Julian Roberts