WWF: Dolphins, Porpoises Dying in Gillnets Can Be Saved
GLAND, Switzerland, June 9, 2005 (ENS) - Entanglement in fishing gear is jeopardizing the survival of nine dolphin and porpoise populations around the world, but if action is taken now to modify that gear, chances are good that they can survive. New research published in advance of next week's International Whaling Commission scientific committee meeting finds that conservation efforts made now could make the difference between life and death for these cetaceans.
One of the world's best informed dolphin and porpoise specialists is lead author of the report, "Global Priorities for Reduction of Cetacean Bycatch."
Dr. Randall Reeves, who chairs the IUCN Species Survival Commissionís Cetacean Specialist Group, said his task as author and that of his team was to indicate where conservation resources can be applied most effectively to maximize dolphin and porpoise survival.
Reeves and his team identified the nine species and populations that offer the best chance of survival through investment of resources as:
Irrawaddy dolphins in gillnets in the Mekong, Mahakam and Ayeyarwady rivers and in Chilka and Songkhla lakes, Southeast Asia
Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins and Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins in drift and bottom-set gillnets on the south coast of Tanzania
Harbor porpoises in coastal gillnets in the Black Sea
Spinner dolphins and Fraserís dolphins in large-mesh driftnets and purse seines in the Philippines
Atlantic humpback dolphins in coastal gillnets in the northern Gulf of Guinea bordered by the West African countries of Ghana and Togo
Burmeisterís porpoises in artisanal gillnets in Peru
Franciscana dolphins in coastal gillnets in Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil
Commersonís dolphins in coastal gillnets and midwater trawls in Argentina
ďAlmost 1,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises die every day in nets and fishing gear. Thatís one every two minutes," said Dr. Susan Lieberman, director of WWF's Global Species Programme. "Some species are being pushed to the brink of extinction."
Lieberman says WWF developed this ranking "to help governments and aid agencies know where their money and efforts can really make a difference."
It is possible to reduce entanglement of dolphins and porpoises in fishing nets, and the WWF report points to successful efforts by U.S. fisheries.
"Between 1993 and 2003, fisheries in the United States introduced changes, such as modifications of fishing gear, that reduced cetacean bycatch to one-third of its previous levels," WWF reports.
"But so far, few of these successful measures have been transferred to other countries, and in much of the rest of the world, progress to reduce bycatch has been slow or nonexistent," WWF says.