The World Conservation Union (IUCN) convenes a new independent scientific advisory panel to monitor the impacts off Sakhalin Island

Those who are following the Sakhalin II developments will be interested to know that a scientific panel has been set up to provide further information on the situation, with a focus on developing best practice. It will be in interesting to consider the findings of the panel and any new or enhanced environmental management techniques they develop.

Gland, Switzerland, 2 October 2006 (IUCN) – Ten prominent international scientists will monitor the status of the critically endangered Western Gray Whale population in the Northwest Pacific and provide ongoing independent advice to a consortium of companies developing oil and gas reserves in the whale’s summer feeding grounds, off Sakhalin Island in the Russian Far East.

The new long-term Western Gray Whale Advisory Panel, convened by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) brings together independent scientific expertise to inform the decisions of oil and gas companies operating in the marine waters off Sakhalin Island and other interested stakeholders. In particular, the Panel will focus on the Sakhalin II oil and gas project being developed by Sakhalin Energy Investment Company Limited (Sakhalin Energy) and due to commence in spring 2007. Sakhalin Energy is a consortium of companies including Royal Dutch Shell and Japanese companies Mitsui and Mitsubishi Corporation.

The World Conservation Union is convening the Panel in response to the findings of an independent report, published in 2005, on the impacts of the Sakhalin II project on the whale population and following consultation with the oil industry and the conservation community.

“This Panel will help to incorporate long-term scientific findings into the design and management of oil and gas operations in the region, thereby contributing to the conservation and recovery of one of the world’s critically endangered giants,” said Carl Gustaf Lundin, Head of the IUCN Global Marine Programme.

“The Panel is a vehicle to provide useful scientific information and recommendations for the ongoing protection of the Western Gray Whale population, supporting industry best practice into the future and giving greater security to the companies involved. It puts non-governmental organizations, scientific institutions and the private sector on a level playing field, providing relevant, timely and accurate scientific knowledge to help each party make well-informed decisions, in the best interest of all,” said Ibrahim Thiaw, Acting Director General of IUCN.

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