ESR 7:23-28 (2009)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00179

AS WE SEE IT
Marine mammal conservation

John E. Reynolds III1,3,*, Helene Marsh2, Timothy J. Ragen3

1Mote Marine Laboratory, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, Florida 34236, USA
2School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, James Cook University of North Queensland, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia
3US Marine Mammal Commission, 4340 East-West Highway, Bethesda, Maryland, 20814 USA

ABSTRACT: Marine mammals face an uncertain fate in our rapidly changing world. Despite human fascination with these species and protective legislation in many countries, conservation efforts for marine mammals have achieved mixed results to date: some species have experienced a degree of recovery following centuries of exploitation, whereas others have perished or are on the brink of extinction. To avoid or at least to minimize further losses, human societies must be willing to assess and alter their values and activities that compete with, or otherwise contribute to, the demise of marine mammals and marine ecosystems. The value of conservation must be elevated from an aesthetically pleasing concept championed when convenient to a fundamental construct of our lives and futures. This new paradigm will require a clear vision of future conservation goals and the roles of societies in achieving them, long-term planning and commitment of funding/resources, rigorous science to resolve critical uncertainties, precautionary protection of habitats and ecosystems in the face of such uncertainty, and an interdisciplinary, comprehensive approach to conservation that engages the social sciences and humanities to elevate the value of conservation over short-term economic gain and many other competing values. Without the social will to make such changes, the future for marine mammals looks bleak.


KEY WORDS: Conservation · Ecosystems · Management · Marine mammals · Precautionary · Proactive · Social sciences


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Cite this article as: Reynolds JE III , Marsh H, Ragen TJ (2009) Marine mammal conservation. Endang Species Res 7:23-28. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00179

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