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Lessons from across the pond – how fishermen in Canada are helping to save a species

A brilliant article about the work of our colleagues in Canada, working to save the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale. There is a lot we can learn from other nations also working to prevent marine animal entanglements:

Entanglement in fishing lines and nets is a growing concern globally and is considered by many to be the most significant welfare threat to marine mammals of our time. These incidents, as highlighted in this article, can interfere with an animal’s ability to move and feed, can cause horrific injuries which must be incredibly painful, and if many animals get entangled, the morbidity and mortality effects can have an impact at a population or even species level. On top of this, entanglements can pose a threat to human safety (disentanglement attempts can be incredibly dangerous) and have a significant financial impact on individual fishers through damage to their gear and lost fishing time. However it is vital to remember that no entanglement is deliberate, and more often than not it is fishermen who are more upset and affected by these incidents than anyone. It is also important to remember that it is often fishermen who come to the rescue of these stricken animals.

To support our fishers, SEA are hosting a training and knowledge exchange workshop at the end of October 2019, exclusively for fishers and those directly involved in entanglement response to share experiences, suggest mitigation measures, and learn how to safely and successfully disentangle large marine animals caught in fishing gear. This workshop will be delivered by David Mattila who has a long history of international whale work, including leading several global large whale entanglement and ship strike mitigation initiatives. Since 1984 David has been developing unique rescue tools, techniques and training programs for whale disentanglement and has trained over 1200 people across 34 countries.

David’s visit offers Scottish fishermen and disentanglement team members a unique opportunity to work together and influence how this issue is tackled moving forward in ways that are practical, realistic and above all, safe. If you are a creel fisherman and would like to learn more about the SEA project, get involved in this, participate in the disentanglement workshop, or if you have ever come across an animal entangled in your gear, please contact the SEA project coordinator Ellie MacLennan on 01463 246048, 07393 798153 or at [email protected].

Any information you choose to share will be treated positively, sensitively and confidentially.

DM workshop poster

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