Ending bycatch

Four Hector’s dolphins caught in a recreational set net washed up on the shore.
Image: NZ DoC. Four Hector's dolphins in recreational set nets washed up on the shore.
Hundreds of thousands of whales, dolphins and porpoises die every year as a result of being caught in fishing gear and nets. This 'bycatch', as it is known, is the single biggest killer of whales, dolphins and porpoises. It also causes horrific injuries. This needs to stop.

There is no ocean where this is not a serious issue, and it puts already threatened species in more danger.

Yet this massive problem goes largely unnoticed. This needs to be addressed. Why?

Entangled North Atlantic right whale
Entangled North Atlantic right whale

When trapped,individuals can either experience a long and slow death through lack of oxygen or suffer great distress as they struggle to escape. In the struggle they can sustain injuries from cuts down to the bone, broken jaws, amputations and fractures, and those that do escape often live short and painful lives before slowly dying as a result of their injuries.

Some entire species such as the tiny vaquita, Maui’s dolphin and the North Atlantic right whale are being pushed literally to the brink of extinction by certain fishing practices. WDC is campaigning to reduce and stop the impacts of these fishing practices, working to create protected areas where they are banned or limited, and also working with fishermen to bring about simple changes that can make a real difference.

We can’t allow these kinds of injuries, pain, suffering and other welfare issues to carry on and this is why we need your support to help us stop whales and dolphins suffering in these nets.

WDC has produced a number of reports examining the issue of bycatch which can be found in our reports section.