A key focus of WDC’s work is on marine protected areas (MPAs) and Important Marine Mammal Areas (IMMAs).
IMMAs are discrete areas of habitat which existing research suggests are crucial to the survival of marine mammal species and which also have the potential to be designated for conservation (as marine protected areas or areas for ship speed reduction to reduce collisions).
Since 2013, WDC has been collaborating with international NGOs to identify and prioritise these IMMAs, which are recognized by many international bodies, including the Convention on Biological Diversity and the International Whaling Commission.
Since 2017, WDC have collaborated in the identification of 173 IMMAs across the Mediterranean and in the Southern Hemisphere, amounting to a total of 15.7 million square kilometres. Over the last year, 11 new IMMAs have been produced in the Black Sea and the IMMA programme has now been extended to the end of 2023 with funding to cover two more ocean regions.
The IMMA project has now examined 35% of the global ocean, and plans to tackle the rest of the ocean in the years to come.