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Soundings Archive

IWC Says Bycatch May Kill 2000 Marine Mammals Every Day
Bycatch occurs when marine mammals are accidentally caught by fishermen. The International Whaling Commission's Science Committee recently adopted a report estimating annual global bycatch for all marine mammals. The estimated number is startling:

653,365 plus-or-minus 108,581 annually

The IWC estimate came from a report by the Cetacean Bycatch Task Force. According to their website, this Task force is "an international network comprised of leading authorities on bycatch mitigation." The World Wildlife Fund sponsors the Task Force and their website.

A WWF news release about the IWC's adopting the report states that the report's two co-authors, Andy Reed of Duke University and Simon Northridge of Scotland's St. Andrews University, "estimate that nearly 1,000 cetaceans die every day in fishing gear, the leading threat to the survival of the world's 80-plus species of whales, dolphins and porpoises." Pinnipeds constitute the rest of the bycatch estimates.

The WWF news release claims there are relatively cheap, simple and effective solutions to this estimated carnage:
    Whales and dolphins can become entangled in commonly used fishing gear like gillnets, tangle nets, trammel nets, trawl nets and long lines. Solutions to the problem of entanglement vary by region and species involved, but can include adding gillnet floats that break away when hit by a whale, acoustic "pingers" that warn marine mammals away from nets and buoy lines that are less likely to snare whales and dolphins.

  • Click here to read Cetacean Bycatch Task Force report

  • Click here to read WWF press release

  • Click here for Cetacean Bycatch Task Force website
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