A new State of Nature report has revealed that losses to all animals, plants and marine life over the past few decades shows no sign of improving and that over 40% of species have decreased in abundance, while just 26% have increased.
The report uses vast amounts of data collected from tens of thousands of expert volunteers and highlights bycatch (the incidental capture of marine creatures) as a serious issue for some species like harbour porpoise and common dolphin. It is estimated that 1,500 small whales, dolphins and porpoises are caught as bycatch each year, as well as a growing number of humpback and minke whales recorded as entangled in ropes from pots on the seabed in the waters around Scotland.
The UK has international commitments to reduce this kind of bycatch to as close to zero as possible, yet bycatch of several species is causing considerable concern.
Currently between 0.5% and 5% of UK fishing activity is monitored at sea, which varies by activities. Observer programmes are the main source of monitoring data, but other data sources, including cameras, acoustic and satellite options, could be used more effectively to improve the problem of bycatch.
The report also cites a range of human activities in the marine environment as threat to marine mammals, such as marine plastics, underwater noise pollution and contaminants.