Tonga will be hosting the three-day event in early April to discuss whale conservation in the Pacific. It will bring together political decision-makers, scientists, community, industry and funders to investigate future legislative and research needs as well as designing innovative ways of cooperating and collaborating. The conference is a highlight of the two-year campaign to protect Pacific humpback whales as although these whales have recovered from the brink of extinction, they are now at significant risk from a range of emerging threats, such as entanglement, noise pollution, marine debris and climate change.
The conference will also focus on updating the status of whales and trends in the Pacific islands region, in particular their ecosystem, economic and cultural value. Whale watching has become an important tourist attraction and revenue earner for Tonga. Learnings from the conference will also feed into the regional perspective informing the United Nations Ocean Conference in June this year.