Protected Area Network for Cetacean Diversity

The goal of the proposed Protected Area Network for Cetacean Diversity (PANCD) is to conserve cetacean diversity in Bangladesh now while the current population sizes of several species at global risk are known to be sufficient for long-term survival if threats can be reduced.

The proposed network would consist of establishing fairly small, multiple-use protected areas in mangrove channel and deep-sea canyon waters where cetaceans occur in relatively high numbers, and conducting broad-range activities in coastal waters where the animals occur more wide spread.

Three protected sites are proposed for Shushuks and Irrawaddy dolphins in the Eastern Sundarbans mangrove forest and a single bi-national protected area is proposed for the Swatch-of-No-Ground, which would include both Bangladesh and Indian waters. In coastal waters connecting the forest to the deep sea, a range of conservation measures would be employed to reduce accidental killing of small cetaceans in fishing gear. The conservation approach is participatory, pro-active, science-based, sensitive to the needs of local stakeholders, and based on sound biology and strong evidence of positive local support.

With a successful effort, Bangladesh could serve as a critical safety net for freshwater, coastal and deep-sea canyon cetaceans whose populations are disappearing elsewhere in Asia. The PANCD could also act as an early warning system and informative tool for adaptive management of the impacts of declining freshwater flows and sea-level rise.

The PANCD proposal was submitted to the Ministry of Environment and Forests of the Government of the Peoples Republic of Bangladesh for approval of the first phase. The preliminary response for the three proposed sites in the Eastern Sundarbans mangrove forest was encouragingly positive.

For more information, please refer to the Proposal for a Protected Area Network for Cetacean Diversity in Bangladesh here, or its short version here.