Press Releases February 2010 - Whales, dolphins and porpoises suffer dramatic declines from by-catch in fishing nets - United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
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Whales, dolphins and porpoises suffer dramatic declines from by-catch in fishing nets

Bonn, 4 February 2010 - Toothed whales are currently suffering from a major threat which is unsustainable loss from by-catch in fishery operations. For 86% of all toothed whale species, entanglement and death in gillnets, traps, weirs, purse seines, longlines and trawls poses a major risk. Lack of food and forced dietary shifts due to overfishing pose additional threats to 13 species.

These are among the findings of a report launched today on the website of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (UNEP/CMS). A corresponding poster available online shows for the first time all toothed whale species sorted according to their conservation status as defined by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

This encyclopaedia on all 72 species of toothed whales includes the most recent scientific findings on the distribution, migration, behaviour and threats to this group of whales. Maps showing the currently known distribution of each species were provided by IUCN and the Global Mammal Assessment.

UNEP/CMS Executive Secretary Elizabeth Mrema said: "During the International Year of Biodiversity, the Convention on Migratory Species continues to address major threats such as by-catch, ship strikes, ocean noise impacts and climate change to safeguard these charismatic marine mammals. Governments need to enhance their efforts towards implementing targeted action plans under the Convention. "

Toothed whales occur in a wide range of marine and freshwater habitats, from the Arctic to the tropics. Some species live in large river systems such as the Amazon, Ganges, Indus and Yangtze. For 41 of all toothed whales species, our knowledge is too limited to even know if they are threatened or not. At the same time 6 species of toothed whales that are listed on Appendix I of the Convention are on the brink of extinction.

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Further Resources

Convention on Migratory Species (CMS)

Odontocetes: the toothed whales: Distribution, Behaviour, Migration and Threats

CMS: Whales and Dolphins

Ghost nets hurting marine environment

UNEP: World Conservation Monitoring Centre


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