Tackling bycatch

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Tackling bycatch
Photo credit: Nick Richards, Black Isle. A humpback whale taken from a whale watching vessel in Vancouver and shows rope and a buoy entangled on the pectoral fin

Today new EU measures have come into place with the hope of reducing bycatch of endangered, threatened and protected species.

The new regulation became law on July 25th and was titled ‘Conservation of fisheries resources and the protection of marine ecosystems through technical measure’. This combined 30 pieces of EU fisheries conservation legislation that determine the conditions which fisherman can act in, including the accidental capture of cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) in fisheries. This new regulation has now come into full force and will influence how the UK and other member states work to protect species bycatch and the wider conservation of protected species and habitats.

The regulation specifically includes an obligation for technical measures to contribute to ensure the bycatch of protected species is ‘minimised and where possible eliminated’. This remains consistent with the ASCOBANS (Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic, North East Atlantic, Irish and North Seas) goal for zero bycatch, with regard to whales, dolphins and porpoise.

Sarah Dolman, Chair of the WCL (Wildlife and Countryside LINK) bycatch group, which ORCA is an active member of, has written a blog to discuss this and what these new measures mean for EU and UK waters and what we must do now in the UK to deliver measures. She also proposes ways that the Government can go further than these EU regulations to help deliver the ambition to be world leaders on environmental protection. You can read the blog here.