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  • Author Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) (SPREP)
  • Collection Waste Management and Pollution Control
  • Material Type Report
International Conventions Relating to Marine Pollution Activities : meeting report, Apia, Samoa, 2-6 December, 1996.
Island and Ocean Ecosystems, Waste Management and Pollution Control
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Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) (SPREP)

The region served by the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP; fig. 1) is situated in the middle of the largest continuous marine habitat on the planet, the Pacific Ocean. Marine mammals (whales, dolphins, porpoises, dugongs and seals) range throughout much of this huge region. Of the world’s approximately 120 living marine mammal species, three-quarters occur in the Pacific (cf. Rice, 1977a). Of the 90 or so Pacific species, perhaps a third are known to be resident in the SPREP region or at least to visit it seasonally or occasionally. However, due to the vastness of the region and the relative lack of research activity in it, very little is known about the marine mammals in the SPREP region. Much of what is known about the distribution and seasonal occurrence of large whales has come from 19th century American, French and British commercial whalers (cf. Townsend, 1935) and from researchers working in conjunction with modern Japanese whaling operations (cf. Miyashita et al., 1995a). Much of what is known about the smaller whales, dolphins and seals comes from the non-systematic, often opportunistic efforts of individual scientists. Dugongs have been studied relatively intensively in some areas because of international concern about their endangered status.