Marine mammal bycatch has been addressed in a new FAO publication Technical Guidelines to Reduce Bycatch of Marine Mammals in Capture Fisheries.
This detailed document is the culmination of years of effort, including two expert workshops (2018, 2019) and support and input from the International Whaling Commission's (IWC) Bycatch Mitigation Initiative (BMI). For tuna and billfish fisheries, the incidental capture of cetaceans is of great concern.
The Guidelines are directed at decision-makers, planners, managers and all those involved in developing and implementing policy and technical interventions that relate to the bycatch of marine mammals in fisheries.They include measures for reducing bycatch include spatial closures, the use of acoustic deterrents or alerting devices, modifications to fishing gear, changes in fishing operations and other strategies. Awareness-raising, communication and capacity-building actions are also highlighted in the Guidelines.
The IWC’s BMI will play an active role, both in promoting the Guidelines through its own capacity building programme, and using them in pilot projects. The BMI has also offered to support a process for reviewing and updating the best practice information contained in the Guidelines, as mitigation technology develops.
Information in the new guidelines will be incorporated into BMIS bycatch mitigation technique descriptions.