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Joining forces: the Bycatch Mitigation Initiative and 
Conservation Management Plan for South American River Dolphins 

Two IWC work programmes will share expertise and pool resources in a joint workshop later this month. The Bycatch Mitigation Initiative (BMI) and Conservation Management Plan (CMP) for South American River Dolphins are working together to provide training that will enable better understanding of bycatch in Amazonian fisheries.

The CMP for South American River Dolphins was proposed by the governments of Brazil, Colombia, Perú and Ecuador, and endorsed by the IWC in 2021. Since then, efforts have been made to progress on five themes and 32 prioritised actions identified for river dolphin conservation. One of the actions is to monitor abundance, trends and effects of anthropogenic activities, which includes the assessment and diagnosis of bycatch in Amazonian fisheries.

The IWC's Bycatch Mitigation Initiative (BMI) has been developing a training and technical advice programme aimed at building national level capacity to assess bycatch of cetaceans in fisheries. This capacity building programme includes specialised training workshops in the use of an open source toolkit known as Bycatch Risk Assessment (ByRA).

ByRA is a Geographic Information System-based toolkit which allows assessment and visualisation of bycatch risk using any amount or type of data available, enabling identification of critical areas for further research and/or immediate management actions. ByRA training has already been provided in several countries.

A ByRA workshop for river dolphins will fill the bycatch risk assessment gap for the two species boto and tucuxi under the scope of the CMP for South American River Dolphins. The primary aim of the workshop is to train teams from the CMP range states on how to apply the ByRA Toolbox to their collected data to provide advanced risk assessment reports on river dolphins bycatch in local fisheries as needed for conservation and bycatch management. 

The three-day workshop is generously funded by NOAA and begins on 22 July in Puerto Nariño, Colombia.

A second ByRA workshop is also scheduled for later in July in Bogotá, Colombia. This workshop will focus on marine cetaceans and is being organised by the BMI, again with the financial support of NOAA and in collaboration with the Colombian Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MinAmbiente).

Read more about the Amazon River Dolphin CMP
Read more about the Bycatch Mitigation Initiative