Job Opening

Posting Title: Status of the Iberian harbour porpoise
Department/Office: United Nations Environment Programme
Duty Station: BONN
Posting Period: 20 May 2022 - 29 May 2022
Job Opening Number: 22-United Nations Environment Programme-179321-Consultant
Staffing Exercise N/A
United Nations Core Values: Integrity, Professionalism, Respect for Diversity
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Result of Service

Final report on the status of the Iberian harbour porpoise provided to the Secretariat.

Work Location

Home-based

Expected duration

12 months.

Duties and Responsibilities

The north-west Iberian Peninsula is one of the world’s main fishing regions. It also has one of the highest rates of marine mammal strandings in Europe and a high number of cetacean by-catch including harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena). Best estimates of bycatch of Iberian porpoises greatly exceed the level of ‘acceptable interaction’ recommended by ASCOBANS and the IWC.

The Iberian harbour porpoise has been recognised a genetically distinct population, potentially a separate sub-species with an estimated population of around 2,900 porpoises. A decreasing trend in harbour porpoise sightings in the Iberian Peninsula was observed in the 1990s and their range was thought to have contracted. A loss of genetic diversity has been found and recent analysis of genetic data indicates a declining population. In a declining population, it is possible that animals breed younger and smaller.

Current cetacean monitoring under ASCOBANS does not make full use of available life history data (e.g. determination of age, and maturity is not funded within core monitoring programmes) and this has been recognised by the ICES Working Group on Marine Mammal Ecology as representing an important gap in coverage. Knowledge of life-history traits is important for effective management and conservation measures and trends in such parameters can provide important information on population status. Life history data from stranded cetaceans can also be used to estimate overall mortality and fishery mortality rates as well as provide baseline information required to monitor the status of a population.

The ASCOBANS Secretariat is seeking a consultant to investigate morphological and demographic parameters in the Iberian porpoise, and compare the Iberian population to porpoises in the North Sea and the Bay of Biscay.

Specific tasks: a) Collate available samples and data from the various stranding networks in Atlantic Spain and Portugal; b) Collation of historical data of harbour porpoises in the Iberian Peninsula; c) Process teeth and gonad samples; d) Data analysis; e) Production of the final report and scientific publication.

Qualifications/special skills

Academic Qualifications: Post graduate degree in biological or environmental sciences or related field required. PhD desirable. Focus on cetaceans, in particular the Iberian harbour porpoise desirable.
Experience: Minimum of five years of relevant experience required.
Language: Fluency in written and spoken English required.

No Fee

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