Simple change to fishing nets could save endangered whales’ lives
Making ropes weaker would reduce humpback and right whale bycatch by almost three-quarters
Entanglement in commercial fishing gear kills or seriously injures about 3 right whales and nearly 10 humpback whales every year off the U.S. coasts of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. The Marine Mammal Protection Act allows only about 1 right and 3 humpback whales to be “removed” annually.
In a forthcoming issue of Conservation Biology, scientists calculate that weakening ropes by around 35 percent would help almost three-quarters of entangled whales break free. This reduction would not damage commercial fishing yields and would cut whale deaths to legal levels, the scientists say.