Every year thousands of whales, dolphins and porpoises die in UK waters due to incidental capture in fishing gear. This is usually referred to as bycatch and is one of the greatest threats to cetaceans.
Not only is bycatch a conservation concern, but it is also a welfare concern for the animals caught, as the level of suffering for individuals who become entangled in fishing gear is enormous. Death is often prolonged as cetaceans do not drown through the inhalation of water but instead close their blowhole and slowly suffocate. If cetaceans do escape capture, the stress and injuries sustained have long-term impacts, often resulting in delayed mortality.
It is estimated that around 1,000 porpoises, hundreds of dolphins, 32 minke whales and at least six humpback whales die in fishing nets and ropes every year around the UK. Government ministers could save more than 1,000 cetaceans a year from this terrible fate. Still, despite laws to protect marine wildlife from bycatch and tackle this issue, efforts to prevent deaths have been poor, and victims of bycatch continue to wash up on beaches around UK coasts.
Urgent action from the Government is required so that targets and deadlines can continually reduce the number of animals suffering and dying from this devastating threat. Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) have launched their #NotInOurNets campaign to press ministers to take action and commit to goals and deadlines for ending dolphin deaths in nets in UK seas.
You can support the campaign and tell the Government that the number of cetaceans suffering and dying is not good enough.