Out of our mission and an understanding of the threats, we created 6 programmes which are the main focus in our effort to bring about effective protection for cetaceans and their habitats.
Defined programmes help to direct our focus to addressing the array of threats to cetaceans without getting trapped into focusing on only the 'exciting' or 'popular' concerns.
Developing the Desire and Ability to Protect Nature
At CCARO, we realize that there are intricate connections in nature and that protecting cetaceans requires that we protect nature as a whole. Sparking the desire in people to care for nature is the first step that must be taken to protect our natural world.
As the lives of most people are increasingly separated from nature it is all the more important to be reminded of our relationship with the natural environment. Our lives affect nature and the state of the natural world affects us more than most people imagine.
Through public education and awareness programmes, improving access to information, developing effective educational materials and offering training and involvement in our conservation work we aim to develop in people the desire and skills to protect their natural environment.
Reduction of Habitat Damage
An animal's habitat is the area in which it lives it life. Damage to or destruction of a habitat can have huge effects on the individual or populations that depend on it.
A cetacean’s habitat is the ocean (or for certain species, rivers) which is large, complex and has many uses and users. We at CCARO understand that no matter how much protection we give the animals themselves, if we neglect to protect their habitat, we will, in the end, fail in our efforts. For this reason, CCARO aims to determine if habitat damage is occurring locally, what are the causes if any and what we can do in collaboration with the users of this habitat, to reduce any habitat damage issues uncovered.
Improvement in Protection from Direct Kills
In the 19th century, whaling was prevalent in Trinidad and Tobago (mainly due to British and American whaling expeditions). As far as we know this is no longer the case. We also have little to no evidence of the local hunting of dolphins or the culling of any cetaceans.
However, we feel that it is wise to ensure that direct kills are not a major threat to local cetaceans. To do this, CCARO aims to determine the extent of whaling, hunting or culling occurring locally, what are the causes if any and what we can do in collaboration with the people involved, to reduce these activities if they are occuring.
Promotion of Cetacean-Safe Fishing Interactions
Different fishing methods may pose different levels of accidental entanglement or damage to cetaceans. These occurrences not only cause harm to the animals but can be the cause of damage to fishing gear as well. It is known that cetaceans and fishermen have been interacting for years sometimes with damage to the animals, sometimes with damage to the fishing equipment or catch and in some commendable cases with damage to neither or even benefit to one or both parties.
At CCARO we would like to determine, in consultation with the relevant stakeholders, the types of interactions which occur and to promote fishing methods which result in less harm to cetaceans and less damage to fishing gear.
Promotion of Cetacean-Safe Boat Interactions
When we think of unsafe cetacean-boat interactions, one of the first things we think of is boat strikes (a boat hitting a cetacean) but there are also other less dramatic interactions which can cause harm to the animals such as harassment.
CCARO aims to find out what types of interactions occur between cetaceans and boats locally and to help to ensure that these are positive interactions through consultation and education. There are several simple guidelines that can reduce the negative effects of boats on cetaceans and you can read them here.
Improving Scientific Knowledge and Understanding of Local Cetaceans
Although the waters of Trinidad and Tobago have been included in several short Caribbean-wide surveys, these cannot provide all the information needed to manage and protect local cetaceans.There is need for more focused work to be done on local populations to determine what threats they face and how best we can protect them. This information can help to provide support for regional marine mammal protection and may also help add to the global knowledge and protection of certain species. Two of the whales that use our waters are listed by the IUCN as threatened and many of the others as data deficient, which means that, world-wide, we do not have enough information about them to even determine if they are in trouble or not.