Important Marine Mammal Areas (IMMAs)
The Important Marine Mammal Areas (IMMAs) process was launched in the region in 2019. A regional workshop took place on March 4th-8th 2019, in Salalah, Oman, and involved 38 marine mammal scientists and observers from 15 countries, with other experts contributing to assessments and proposals remotely. To be classified as an IMMA, areas of interests are assessed based on four main criteria: (1) Species or Population Vulnerability, (2) Distribution and Abundance (small resident population, Large aggregation), (3) Life Cycle Activities (Breeding habitat, Feeding habitat, migration routes) (4) Special Attributes (distinctiveness, diversity). The 37 IMMAs identified as a result of these workshops and subsequent independent review can now be viewed on the IMMA eAtlas.
In early December 2019, the Marine Mammal Protected Areas Task force announced the approval of 37 new IMMAs for the Western Indian Ocean and Arabian Seas. IMMAs in the Western Indian Ocean were identified for Endangered Indian Ocean humpback dolphins, the threatened dugong, concentrations of the rare Omura’s whales, as well as three different populations of blue whales. IMMAs also highlighted breeding habitats for humpback and sperm whales. More information on each area is provided on IMMA website. Direct links to each IMMA in the region can be found on the IndoCet website. Shapefiles for each IMMA can also be requested via the IMMA eAtlas webpage.