[MARMAM] CMS Press Release: Whales suffer dramatic declines from by-catch in fishing nets

Veronika Lenarz vlenarz at cms.int
Thu Feb 4 00:29:12 PST 2010

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 (tm). 


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


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.


Many populations of toothed whales were hunted almost to extinction and
50 species continue to be hunted, often at unsustainable levels.
Ingestion of plastic debris or the effects of pollution by an ever
increasing cocktail of chemicals have been reported for 48 species.
Habitat degradation from dams and withdrawal of water from rivers and
lakes threatens 18 species while ship strikes have a serious impact on
14 species. Noise caused by seismic explorations, marine construction
projects as well as military sonar pose ever increasing threats to these
marine mammals.


Based on the Review of Small Cetaceans published by CMS in 2003, this
report includes the Sperm Whale as the only large toothed whale as well
as the Australian Snubfin Dolphin and the Guiana Dolphin as new species.
Since 2003, the conservation status of the toothed whales has worsened
dramatically. The Baiji River Dolphin, which used to live in the Yangtze
River, is now probably extinct as no living specimens have been
documented in the wild since 2002. With only 150 individuals remaining
in the wild, the Vaquita, a porpoise living in the northern Gulf of
California, is facing the same destiny. Entanglement in fishing gear
claimed an unsustainably high death toll on both species.


Data collection on the distribution, behaviour and migration of toothed
whales, as reflected in research for the CMS can facilitate the
development and implementation of action plans that can help reduce the
threats to many whale species. Being an official partner of the
International Year of Biodiversity,

the Convention on Migratory Species has joined the Convention on
Biological Diversity (CBD) to raise awareness of the importance of
biodiversity on a global scale. CMS, which has been recognized as CBD's
lead partner on issues regarding migratory species, continues to take
steps to stress the importance of biodiversity for our well-being and
enhance efforts to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss.


Notes to Editors:

The full species reports for the toothed whales authored by Boris Culik
from Kiel University, Germany, can be downloaded from www.cms.int. The

is a joint effort of CMS, ACCOBAMS, ASCOBANS, IUCN, WWF and Loro Parque
Foundation. The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of
Wild Animals, also known as the Bonn Convention, works for the
conservation of a wide array of endangered migratory animals such as
whales and dolphins worldwide through the negotiation and implementation
of agreements and species action plans. With currently 113 member
countries, many of them in Africa, CMS is a fastgrowing convention with
special importance due to its expertise in the field of migratory


Under the Convention, the following regional treaties were concluded to
protect whales and dolphins: Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans
of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area
(ACCOBAMS), Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the
Baltic, North East Atlantic, Irish and North Seas (ASCOBANS), Memorandum
of Understanding for the Conservation of Cetaceans and their Habitats in
the Pacific Islands Region and the Memorandum of Understanding
concerning the Conservation of the Manatee and Small Cetaceans of
Western Africa and Macaronesia.


For more information please contact:

Veronika Lenarz, Public Information, UNEP/CMS Secretariat, on Tel.: +49
228 815 2409 or e-mail: vlenarz at cms.int, www.cms.int


UNEP/CMS Secretariat

Public Information

Herrman-Ehlers-Str. 10

53113 Bonn, Germany

T. +49 228 815-2409

F. +49 228 815-2449





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