SSC Specialists identify global priorities for reducing cetacean bycatch

Dead harbor porpoise tangled in a net - Photo: WWFIUCN - The World Conservation Union, Gland, Switzerland (16.06.2005) - Eleven of the world’s leading marine scientists, all members of the Species Survival Commission’s Cetacean Specialist Group, have for the first time assessed dolphin and porpoise populations around the world which are severely threatened by entanglement in fishing gear.

They have recommended nine urgent priorities for action in a report commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). These nine projects highlight species threatened by bycatch that are the most likely to benefit from immediate action but are languishing without intervention.

The list of dolphins and porpoises that could recover if changes to fishing methods and other conservation efforts are made includes harbor porpoises in the Black Sea, where thousands of porpoises are killed each year; Atlantic humpback dolphins off the coast of west Africa; and franciscana dolphins in South America. Most of the species on the list are threatened by the widespread use of one type of fishing gear – gillnets. These nets are difficult for dolphins and porpoises to spot visually or detect with their sonar, so they may become tangled in the netting or in the ropes attached to the nets. Full report (English 301KB, Français 313KB, Español 340KB) // WWF press release (210KB) // WWF - US Dolphins and Porpoises flyer (460KB) // SSC Cetacean Specialist Group profile

For further information contact

Anna Knee or Andrew McMullin, IUCN Species Programme Communications Officers
Tel: +41 (0)22 999 0153
Email: or

Work area: 
Marine species
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