Published: 22 November 2018
Last edited: 22 November 2018

The panel works with all relevant stakeholders and affected parties, including the International Whaling Commission (IWC), local and federal government, companies, contractors, fisheries, tourism operators, NGOs, lenders, financial institutions and research institutes. It has a huge network of experts at all levels and takes evidence from a range of disciplines and perspectives.


Over the years the panel has helped ease tensions between the different interest groups by creating an open forum for dialogue, particularly between NGOs and Sakhalin Energy. The organisations that campaigned against the company’s financing now participate as observers in WGWAP meetings.


WGWAP has helped increase the number of arenas where whale conservation is discussed with new regional and national fora being established in the Russian Federation. Close connections have been forged between WGWAP and the IWC which supports a broader, range-wide view of gray whale issues. Several Range States have also adopted a Memorandum of Cooperation on Conservation Measures for the western gray whale that refers to the IWC/IUCN Conservation Management Plan (currently being revised), the IWC and WGWAP.


Alliance and partnership development
Scale of implementation

Enabling factors

The panel’s links with and capacity to engage with such a diverse range of stakeholders has been built up over several years. Trust building takes time, a willingness to take evidence and hear the perspectives of others and the courage to have difficult discussions.

Lessons learned

A key lesson learned through the panel’s engagement has been the importance of understanding and navigating cultural differences be they corporate or institutional, nationality quirks, language or terminology used to describe challenges and solutions.


In addition, while the primary focus of the panel is on Sakhalin Energy, it has also demonstrated the benefits of adopting a more holistic approach to whale conservation and exploring synergies and inputs into national and range-wide processes. This would involve working more closely with the fisheries, shipping and tourism sectors which also impact the whales, and addressing cumulative impacts. Continued discussion among stakeholders is needed to determine whether the panel is the most effective model to take on a significantly wider scope.