International Whaling Commission Workshop: Assessing the Impacts of Marine Debris

May 13-17, 2013
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Day One (Monday 13th May - Public Seminar)

Key note presentations and question and answer sessions (NB this day is open to the public). Location: Clark Lab 507 on the Quissett Campus of the Woods Hole Institution (Map and directions here  The conference room is on the 5th and top floor of Clark Lab.

Start 10am

  • Welcome and background to the workshop. Workshop Convener: Mark Peter Simmonds - 5 mins.
  • An Introduction to the work of the International Whaling Commission on environmental issues. Simon Brockington, Executive Secretary, International Whaling Commission -15 mins.
  • Marine Debris in our oceans – an overview. Nancy Wallace, Marine Debris Programme Director and Division Chief, US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – 45 mins – to include questions

11.05 am Coffee break (25 mins)

  • Whale entanglement: detection and impacts. Michael Moore, Director Marine Mammal Center, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution – 45 mins – to include questions
  • Whale entanglement: scope and response. David Mattila, International Whaling Commission – 45 mins – to include questions

1 pm Lunch break (1.5 hours) [lunch will not be provided but there is a café nearby]

  • Microplastics – Cristina Fossi, University of Siena – 45 minutes- to include questions
  • Closing the loop: Repackaging plastic debris as a hazardous substance. Mark Browne, NCEAS, University of California – 45 minutes – to include questions

4 pm Afternoon tea (30 mins)

  • Questions Arising – Mark Peter Simmonds and Sarah Baulch, Environmental Investigation Agency -30 mins.

Seminar Concluding Discussion - 30 mins     Seminar Close: 5.30pm.

Days 2-4 Formal Workshop (Open only to registered participants)

Location: The Carriage House, WHOI's Quissett Campus (web link to map)

Starting each day at 9am, with coffee/tea break at 10.30 and 3.30 and an hour’s lunch break at around 12.30.

DAY 2 (Tuesday, May 14)


1          Introductory items

1.1       Introductions and background to the workshop

1.2       Appointment of chair, rapporteurs and other meeting arrangements

1.2.1    Review of agenda

1.2.2    Review of appropriate data sources and information provided to the workshop

2.          Entanglement

2.1       Papers relating to entanglement (overview) [Short presentation: Michela Podesta: entanglement records in Italy.]

2.2       Review of the available marine debris entanglement data – consideration of species and data-types [Presentation: Kirsten Gilardi: modelling impacts of derelict gear in Puget Sound.]

2.3       Distinguishing active fishing gear entanglements from entanglement in marine debris (consideration of fouling on debris types, scarring etc)

2.4       Recommended pathology protocols

2.5       Categorisation of entangling debris types

Finish at 4pm for a tour of WHOI and assemble at 6pm at the Captain Kid restaurant for group dinner – please note you have to pay for your own bill.

DAY 3 (Wednesday, May 15)

2.         Ingestion

2.1       Papers relating to ingestion (overview) [Presentation: Sarah Baulch – review of the ingestion literature.]

2.2      Review of the available marine debris ingestion data – consideration of species and data-types

[Presentation: Michela Podesta: investigations of debris ingestion by sperm whales and other species in Italy – latest results]

2.3       Recommended pathology protocols

2. 4      Categorisation of ingested debris types

2. 5      Micro-plastics – associated pathological implications, pollution transfer and the development of biomarkers

3.         The distribution of debris

3.1       Papers relating to investigating the distribution of marine debris (overview)

3.2       Modelling approaches to identify spatial overlap between cetaceans and harmful debris

3.3       The application of quantitative field sampling techniques to investigate prevalence of marine debris in cetacean habitats, including deep seas

3.4       Papers relating to evaluating overall impacts of marine debris

3.5       The welfare implications of marine debris interactions at an individual level

3.6       The application of modelling techniques to evaluate impacts at a population level


Finish at 5pm – special evening session on communicating the problem of marine debris led by Ginny Broadhurst (6-8pm)

Day 4 (Thursday, May 16)

[Presentation: Joan Drinkwin – demonstration of the Puget Sound database – impacts of derelict fishing gear on species and habitats. Other breakout groups if/as required.]

4.         Overarching evaluation of data and recommendations

4.1       Evaluation of the significance of entanglement in debris, including identifying species and populations at highest risk

4.2       Evaluation of the significance of ingestion of debris, including identifying species and populations at highest risk

4.3       Identification of data needs and further data sources

4.4       Recommendations for future research and the development of research tools

4. 5      Recommendations for priority mitigation measures to reduce entanglement in debris

4.6       Recommendations for priority mitigation measures to reduce debris types associated with harmful effects due to ingestion

5.         The IWC Response

[Presentation: Marchien de Ruiter: Europe’s response to marine debris.]

5.1.      Work being undertaken by other IGOs (including report from CMS/UNEP)

5.2       Proposals for future actions by the IWC and opportunities for inter-governmental collaboration (e.g. with CMS, UNEP, CCAMLR, NOAA, NCEAS etc.)

5.3       Preparation for second joint IWC Scientific and Conservation Committee workshop on Marine Debris

5.3.1    Recommendations for Terms of Reference

5.3.2    Recommendations for Scientific Committee attendance

Finish at 5pm. Breakout groups as required.

Day 5 (Friday, May 17)

6.        Conclusion and Report

6.1       Any outstanding issues.

6.2       Review of conclusions/actions and report.

6.3       Acknowledgements and concluding items.


Finish – aiming for 3pm.

Last updated: September 11, 2014