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The Bycatch Mitigation Initiative has three key components: a Standing Working Group to oversee the Initiative, a co-ordinator with the technical knowledge to lead the programme, and an Expert Panel to provide advice. 

The Expert Panel is a 22-strong, multi-disciplinary group.  It incorporates a wide range of global leaders in bycatch and related fields, including biology, ecology and zoology, fisheries - industrial to artisanal scale, economics, social science, law and policy development; regulation and compliance. The Panel works with the Scientific Committee of the IWC as well as with other international, regional and specialist organisations. 

bycatch panel Umair LEd lightstick trials to reduce shark mortality                                                                                                                                    LED lightstick trial - one of several technologies which may help reduce bycatch. Photo: Umair Shahid

His work over the last 25 years has focused on wildlife management and conservation biology of threatened and non-threatened species, and particularly the management of bycatch in commercial fisheries. He is the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) Conference-Appointed Councillor for Bycatch, a position he has held since 2006. He first joined the CMS Scientific Council in 1999 when he was appointed as Australia’s Scientific Councillor to CMS. Since 1998, his work has focused on developing solutions to minimise the bycatch of seabirds, turtles and marine mammals in longline, trawl and gillnet fisheries. Since 1998 Barry has been involved in developing, testing and proving the effectiveness of bycatch mitigation measures for marine mammals and seabirds.

Dr Berggren has been engaged in research related to assessment and mitigation of cetacean bycatch since the early 1990s. He has attended IWC Scientific Committee (SC) meetings since 1990. Dr Berggren has contributed to a large number of publications that have addressed assessment and mitigation of cetacean bycatch, including IWC publications, and SC meeting documents and working papers. Dr Berggren gave presentations and organized workshops on innovative, low-cost methods to reduce marine mammal bycatch in global, artisanal gillnet fisheries at the 2015 and 2017 Society for Marine Mammalogy Biennial Conferences. These methods include the use of glass-bottle alarms, plastic-bottle acoustic reflectors, and mass-producible solar charged fluorescent lights. Each solution represents a different strategy (sound, echolocation efficiency, light) to alert cetaceans to the presence of nets with potential for combined or separate application depending on local and environmental conditions. Dr Berggren has conducted several trials of acoustic alarms in Swedish and East African gillnet fisheries to test their efficacy at reducing harbour porpoise and dolphin bycatch in bottom-set and drift-gillnet fisheries. He is one of the lead scientists in a western Indian Ocean project that is conducting a comprehensive assessment of megafauna catch and bycatch in small scale gillnet and longline fisheries. In addition, he is developing and testing low-cost bycatch mitigation methods for these fisheries in Madagascar and Zanzibar, and prawn trawl fisheries in Kenya.

His professional career includes chair of the ICES Marne Mammal Committee (1992 -1994), chair of the IWC Scientific Committee (2005 – 2010) and chair of the Norwegian Marine Mammal Scientific Advisory Board (2009-current). He has more than forty articles in peer reviewed journals. Bjørge is in charge of the Norwegian research programme on marine mammal bycatch monitoring and mitigation at IMR. This includes close collaboration with fishermen and their organisation, the Norwegian Fishermen’s Association. Bjørge is experimenting with acoustic deterrent devices (ADDs) for deployment on gillnets to mitigate bycatches of cetaceans.  He is collaborating with two ADD manufacturers to tailor the ADDs for use in Norwegian gillnet fisheries. Bjørge is participating in the ICES Working Group on Bycatch of Protected Species, the NAMMCO Working Group on Marine Mammal Bycatch, the IWC SC subcommittee on Human Induced Mortalities, and he has a very wide international network of experts for support of his work on bycatch mitigation.

He is the Africa Co-ordinator of the IUCN Cetacean Specialist Group and the Scientific Co-ordinator of the Arabian Sea Whale Network. He has worked with cetaceans, including strandings and bycatches, in various countries ranging from Oman and the United Arab Emirates, to Angola, Madagascar and Gabon. Most recently Tim has worked to identify and mitigate gillnet bycatches of Critically Endangered Atlantic humpback dolphins in Congo. This has included helping to implement a participatory programme to quantify and map artisanal fishing behaviour across most of the Congolese coast. The work yielded high resolution data for relatively low cost, and fills a frequently cited gap for the management of small fisheries. Tim currently lives in Kenya but continues efforts to further the work of various projects in Oman and Central and East Africa.

Sarah co-ordinates WDC's global bycatch programme and has focused on cetacean conservation and welfare issues for more than 20 years. She is currently working to improve implementation of existing European bycatch law (Regulation 812) and the development of new EU bycatch law. Sarah sits on the stakeholder steering group for the development of a UK bycatch strategy, an initiative lobbied for by WDC under Sarah’s guidance, and sits on the steering group for an EU-funded Scottish whale entanglement reduction project. She has been involved in the development of best practice guidance for reducing marine animal entanglements in the Scottish creel fishery. Sarah has an MRes in fisheries science and has written book chapters and policy briefings on reducing cetacean bycatch.

He has spent a decade on vessels around the world, and more recently informed EU policy on discards in marine fisheries through the UK Government’s Research and Development agenda. He spent 7 years working for a UK Statutory Nature Conservation Body where he was responsible for ensuring the objectivity, quality and transparency of the marine evidence used for designating, and subsequently managing, Marine Protected Areas. Dr Enever currently works as Head of Science and Uptake for Fishtek Marine, a UK-based company that designs and manufactures technologies to prevent the bycatch of marine species. Fishtek Marine’s in-house team of multi-award-winning engineers works to a difficult set of criteria; products must deliver the conservation gains they are designed for, but must also be practical, durable, low cost, and have no impact on either target catch or fishing operation.

Her research addresses population and community ecology of threatened and endangered species as related to local conservation efforts and regional scale coastal and marine management science. As a zoogeographer and a conservation-oriented scientist, she has long been interested in why animals are present in some but not other spaces, how they use and take advantage of their environment and habitats, and how those habitats and animals are threatened. Her methods have varied over the years, and cross disciplinary boundaries. For the past two decades, Dr Hines and her students and colleagues have applied geographic technologies, including GIS and remote sensing techniques to issues related to bycatch, and fishing effort, ship collisions, entanglements, coastal protected areas and the effects of changing climates on near-shore habitat. Since 1999, her bycatch research has focused on locations in Asia, including Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Sri Lanka, where she works closely with local scientists, including a current project with colleagues from Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, creating a tool for delineating areas of bycatch risk.

Endangered and threatened species. Her work focuses on bycatch monitoring by use of video and sensor systems, bycatch risk predictions, bycatch reduction tools such as acoustic deterrent devices and development of fishing gears to avoid depredation or to protect endangered and threatened species. She participates in national and international discussions with authorities on management options, best practices and protection of marine mammals, and collaborates with fishers for gear development, management options, fishing practices and implementation of CCTV on-board fishing vessels. Furthermore she is the Danish delegate at ICES council working groups for Bycatch of Protected Species (WGBYC) and Fishing Technology and Fish Behaviour (WGFTB), and a member of the Expert Committee on Fishing Technologies (ECOFT) advising the Mexican government on gear technology for protecting the vaquita.

He is a marine ecologist and conservation biologist with a strong interest in bycatch assessment and mitigation, particularly in small-scale fisheries. Over the last 15 years, he has developed and been part of multiple projects, particularly in East Africa and in the Indian Ocean, to assess marine mammal, sea turtle and elasmobranch bycatch in small-scale fisheries. He is currently working on different projects assessing and mitigating bycatch of cetaceans in East Africa and in the Arabian Sea.

Russell has been involved in discussions of the IWC Scientific Committee since 1996, acted as rapporteur for the Committee’s Bycatch/Human Induced Mortality working group 2001-2011 and then as convenor since 2012. This has given him a good knowledge of the discussions within the Scientific Committee related to bycatch over the last 20 years. He was joint coordinator for the ASCOBANS Conservation Plan for Harbour Porpoise in the North Sea (which was primarily concerned with bycatch) from 2010-2011 and subsequently chaired the ASCOBANS bycatch working group until 2014. He has authored numerous publications, and presented more than 50 papers at international scientific conferences related to cetaceans. He has worked as a bycatch observer on gillnet fishing vessels (Tregenza et al. 1997a,b) and has also worked on estimation of bycatch rates (Moore and Leaper, 2011). More recent research has included analysis of humpback whale entanglements off Scotland (Ryan et al., 2016) and a review of methods used to reduce risks of cetacean bycatch and entanglement (Leaper and Calderan, 2017).

Is an ecologist in the SWFSC’s Marine Mammal and Turtle Division and is adjunct professor and a co-founder of the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego. Her research focuses on the behavioural ecology of marine vertebrates. The main goal of these studies is to provide a behavioural framework within which to investigate population identity, population trends and fishery interactions in cetaceans. Sarah has worked in the Gulf of California since 1986 and been involved in vaquita conservation for much of this time. Currently, her work is focused on using market-based incentives to eliminate vaquita bycatch in gillnet fisheries, which is driving the species to extinction and causing social unrest and economic hardship in the region. She works strategically with government agencies, NGOs and academia to build support for bottom-up, incentive based approaches that complement top-down, command and control measures to eliminate illegal fishing while supporting local communities. Other work includes investigating opportunities for economically viable, alternative livelihoods to wild-capture fisheries, including aquaculture, sportfishing and green energy.

And she has experience working with fisheries management for 20 years. She holds an MSc degree in Environmental Science - Planning and Management. She is currently a PhD student in fisheries management at the University of Eldoret, Kenya. She has been responsible for environment and conservation of fisheries resources and related ecosystems, She coordinates the development and implementation of fishery-specific management plans and also gives guidance on areas that need regulations for fishing gears and species. She has been involved in managing fisheries interactions with endangered species, especially sea turtles and marine mammals, with major focus on trawl and gillnet fisheries. She works closely with research institutions and conservation agencies.

He has been running a bycatch monitoring scheme in the UK for over 20 years, and has worked on understanding how and why cetacean bycatch occurs, and has helped industry find solutions to bycatch in gillnet and trawl fisheries in the UK. He has authored a number of reports and papers on the subject. He is a member of the Scientific Committee of the IWC, of the IUCN cetacean specialist group and of the ICES working group on bycatch of protected species.

At present, MareCet's research is focused on Indo-Pacific finless porpoises, Irrawaddy dolphins, Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, dugongs and Bryde's whales. Together with her team at MareCet, her scientific research includes the study of cetacean and dugong distributions, movement patterns, bioacoustics, interactions with human activities and assessment of bycatch risks within Malaysia. The science is then applied to policy advocacy work, and marine education and outreach initiatives. One of MareCet's newest programmes of work is on bycatch mitigation trials for coastal cetaceans in artisanal gillnet and commercial trawl fisheries in Peninsular Malaysia. Louisa presently serves as Regional Coordinator for Asia and Afro-Asia on the IUCN Cetacean and Sirenia Specialist Groups respectively. She also provides mentorship and capacity training for research and conservation approaches to young and up-and-coming colleagues in Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand. Louisa is a Pew Marine Fellow.

And Chair of Duke’s Division of Marine Science and Conservation. Over his career, Dr Read has published numerous papers on marine mammal bycatch and much of his work has focused on this issue. Further, Dr Read as a member of the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita has been focusing his knowledge and experience on helping to save this species from extinction due to bycatch in gillnets. In addition, he has considerable experience working within the IWC framework, having served as Convenor of the Sub-Committee on Small Cetaceans for the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission from 1999 to 2004.

And maintains engagement with Regional Fishery Management Organizations dealing with tuna and tuna-like fisheries. He formerly served as a senior advisor on the US NOAA-Fisheries Southeast Fisheries Science Center’s (Miami, Florida) resource assessment research programs, conducting stock assessment research to support domestic and international management decisions on Atlantic large pelagic fisheries resources. From 2005 to 2010, he served as the elected chair of ICCAT’s Standing Committee on Research and Statistics and was previously the chief US scientist to ICCAT. Dr. Scott has extensive experience, spanning more than 35 years, conducting quantitative stock assessment research on a diverse set of resources including tunas and tuna-like species, marine mammals, coastal migratory pelagic and reef resources. He holds a PhD (biological oceanography) from the University of Rhode Island and an AB (zoology) from the Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

He is currently the Indian Ocean Tuna Manager for WWF and works closely with the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission and its member states for overall improvement in fisheries in the Indian Ocean. He has worked on issues related to small-scale fisheries and large-scale tuna fisheries, mostly focusing on the management of bycatch of marine turtles, sharks and marine mammals. For the past several years he has been working under challenging conditions along the coast of Pakistan and beyond, supporting other countries in the region, such as the Maldives, Sri Lanka, India, and Iran to improve the management of bycatch. He has been actively working on developing mitigation measures for tuna directed gillnet/driftnet fisheries, and interacts regularly with fishermen, skippers and boat owners who have collaborated on a significant research project on bycatch in the Pakistan tuna fleet. He has also been associated with bycatch policy work in Pakistan, which is slowly bringing positive change.

He has undertaken extensive reviews of US laws, including the Marine Mammal Protection Act, as well as state legislation, analyzing how these regulations impact bycatch of marine mammals. In addition, he brings an in-depth knowledge of international treaty law related to the marine environment. Mr. Smith is co-author of the report “Net Loss: The Killing of Marine Mammals in Foreign Fisheries” which identified species at risk of extinction resulting from global commercial fishing operations. He has worked extensively on issues related to the critically endangered vaquita, and currently serves as a member of the Vaquita Regulatory/Legal Task Force established under the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Government of Mexico and various private foundations looking to address the use of gillnets in the Upper Gulf of California. Mr. Smith has also worked with legislators and the seafood industry in California regarding the development of market-based initiatives, both voluntary and regulatory, that promote the use of vaquita-safe fishing gear.

Regional Fisheries Management Organizations, World Bank, WorldFish Center, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, national and regional governments, environmental Non-Governmental Organizations, industry, and others. He has worked on bycatch, and more broadly marine biodiversity conservation, for many years, with research and actual management for marine mammals, sea turtles, finfish, and living habitat such as cold water corals and reefs. He has worked on both commercial, large-scale and medium-scale fisheries and developing country small-scale, artisanal fisheries. He has conducted considerable research and empirical analysis and organised a number of inter-disciplinary workshops on bycatch, including marine mammals.  He has spent the last approximately five years researching and writing a book, co-authored with Serge Garcia, on incentive-based approaches to fisheries bycatch reduction. He has been one of the chief organisers for three international inter-disciplinary workshops on incentive-based approaches to bycatch reduction, with a fourth planned for 2019. He is also a Handling Editor with the premier conservation journal, Conservation Biology.

Tim is a marine zoologist and conservation biologist, specialising in using science to conserve biodiversity in ways that also support the livelihoods of fishermen and coastal communities. His main research focus is on the evaluation of bycatch reduction technologies for endangered species that include marine mammals, sharks and rays, sea turtles, and seabirds. For this work, he received the 2013 Katerva Ecosystem Conservation Award. He also has a long-standing interest in coral reef ecosystems, and has led several scientific expeditions to assess coral reef biodiversity and health in Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, and Solomon Islands. Prior to joining the New England Aquarium, he was a Senior Director at Conservation International, responsible for launching its marine program, helping to establish several marine and terrestrial reserves in the South Pacific and South America, and developing environmentally sound income-generation for rural communities as incentives to conserve their natural environments. His appointments include Fisheries Scientist on the US NMFS Pelagic Longline Take Reduction Team, and Research Associate at UMASS-Boston. He holds a M.S. in in Marine Zoology from the University of Maryland, a M.S. in Business Management from Stanford University where he was a 2001 Sloan Fellow, and a PhD from Boston University.

The Sea Surveillance Service has the main responsibility for disentangling and handling live whales in Norway. He has a M.Sc. in ecology from The Norwegian University of Life Sciences. Recently he studied environmental crime and fisheries crime at the Norwegian Police Academy and completed the IWC’s entanglement response training program. He started his professional career at the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research and has worked for The Norwegian Polar Institute, tagging bowhead whales in the Fram Strait. He has worked for the Norwegian Green Party as an advisor during the 2015 elections and is an advisor on the Directorate of Fisheries board for mitigating marine littering. He has many years of direct experience in working with fishing industries and fishing communities, and has expert knowledge of several aspects of fisheries management, bycatch problematics, enforcement and compliance.