Entanglement of Large Whales
A new area of work for the IWC is to assist countries and properly trained individuals in responding to large whales that have become entangled in fishing gear or other marine debris. Entanglement of all species of large whales can occur, at varying rates, throughout their geographical range. Such events create severe welfare issues for the entangled animal which may ultimately die. An additional, and very important consideration lies with the safety of teams tasked with attempting to free an entangled whale.
The IWC has addressed this issue by holding two international workshops in order to develop recommendations for action. The first workshop was held in 2010 in Maui, Hawaii and its report can be found here. This report includes several recommendations, including to establish local response capabilities, with appropriate national authority. It developed an assessment and decision tree for structuring the response to entangled whales, and also addressed the question of euthanasia should all efforts to free an animal fail.
The report of the second workshop, held in Provincetown (USA) in 2011 can be found here. This workshop was attended by representatives from every major whale disentanglement response team in the world, and its recommendations were developed by drawing on their collective experiences.
The workshop recognised the benefits that would arise from the formation of a global network of large whale entanglement response organisations, and suggested that there would be great value in the network being established under the auspices of the IWC.
Since the conclusion of the workshop the IWC’s Secretariat has continued to promote the development of large whale entanglement response teams around the world by conducting a training programme, which uses the principles and guidelines, training strategy and curriculum developed by the global network at the Provincetown Workshop (Appendi E and F of the report).
Click here to be taken to our entanglement photo gallery