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Industry award recognition for project to prevent whale entanglement in fishing gear

Long-beaked common dolphin

The Scottish Entanglement Alliance (SEA) project, an initiative involving WDC, has been annouced as a runner up in the sustainability category at the 2022 Fishing News Awards. The awards ceremony is the only event dedicated to recognising achievement, innovation and success in the UK and Irish commercial fishing industry.

SEA is a unique project bringing together fishers, scientists and marine conservation charities, which aims to better understand the scale and impact of whale and marine animal entanglements in fishing gear in UK waters and, by working together, develop strategies to reduce the problem. The industry’s recognition of the SEA project demonstrates the merits of this innovative collaborative approach and the pioneering action the Scottish creel fishing industry are taking to reduce entanglement in fishing gear.

Many of the participating fishers took part in training events and workshops to promote best practise, reduce entanglement risk, and safely disentangle large marine mammals from fishing gear. This training gave fishers the ability to call on each other and safely provide a rapid response to any entanglement.

Entanglement in fishing gear is a global problem that poses a threat to whales, including in Scottish waters. With thousands of miles of associated rope in the water at any given time, whales and marine animals such as basking sharks and turtles can become entangled, which then have longer term conservation, welfare and economic consequences.

Entanglements can impair a whale’s ability to breathe, feed, swim and reproduce. These incidents can also be distressing and potentially dangerous for those discovering them, and the financial cost to fishermen through damaged or lost gear can be significant.

The project was funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, led by NatureScot and partnered by the Scottish Creel Fisherman’s Federation, British Divers Marine Life Rescue, Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme and Whale and Dolphin Conservation.

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