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Lulu the orca and the wider issue of bycatch

An unprecedented outpouring of public grief followed the recent news of the death of one of Britain’s few resident killer whales.

Lulu, a member of a nine-whale pod resident off the coast of Scotland, was washed up on the Scottish island of Tiree earlier this month (January 2016). Scientists believe she’d become entangled in a fishing rope and had been unable to surface for air.

Dr Conor Ryan, of the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust was reported in the Independent as saying: “The prospects for the population were never good but now they’re worse. With a population as low as eight the chances of them recovering is slim to nil at this point.”

As proud partners of the marine industry, we’re always considerate of challenges it faces, especially with regard to reducing bycatch.

We recently analysed data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, to visualise bycatch by target species (see below). Essentially we wanted to illustrate which animals most at risk, depending on the type of fish being caught.

Bycatch is a sadly unavoidable part of fishing but the industry is working hard to reduce the impact. Tooling and technological innovations such as acoustic pingers that alert trawlers to the presence of non-target species, whale safe hooks and metallic repellents that deter sharks and rays from approaching fishing vessels are proof of this.

We think it’s everyone’s duty to know the potential cost of the fish they eat, not just those whose job it is to catch it.

 

Stormline bycatch illustrated

 

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