Bycatch is the accidental capture of whales and dolphins in fishing nets and ropes. Fishermen do not want to catch whales and dolphins, but sadly huge numbers do die tangled in nets under the water, unable to breathe. The problem is that nylon fishing nets are difficult for whales and dolphins to detect; they swim into them and become hopelessly tangled and trapped underneath the water.
What can we do?
If you find lost fishing nets or lines on the beach please ask a grown up to help you safely remove them and put them in the bin. This will stop them washing back out to sea and injuring marine wildlife. Taking part in beach cleans is a great way to help remove all sorts of dangerous litter from beaches.
We can all help reduce bycatch by eating less fish and making sure our families buy fish caught in safe and sustainable ways. Pole and line fishing is one method used to catch fish without using fishing nets.
WDC is campaigning for governments to reduce accidental deaths of whales and dolphins in fishing nets.
The best way is to use fewer nets and stop the use of the most harmful nets altogether. Other actions that would help are banning fishing nets in certain locations and during some months of the year when whales and dolphins are especially vulnerable. WDC is working with fishermen, scientists and law makers to find new ways of catching fish that are safer for whales and dolphins. One method showing some results is adding devices called ‘pingers’ to fishing nets, these make warning noises to alert dolphins that there is a net in the water.