[MARMAM] New review paper on bycatch and small cetaceans (Brownell et al.)

Tilen Genov tilen.genov at gmail.com
Thu Dec 19 05:11:32 PST 2019

Dear MARMAMers

We would like to share the following review paper in Endangered Species

Brownell R.L. Jr., Reeves R.R., Read A.J., Smith B.D., Thomas P.O., Ralls
K., Amano M., Berggren P., Chit A.M., Collins T., Currey R., Dolar M.L.L.,
Genov T., Hobbs R.C., Kreb D., Marsh H., Zhigang M., Perrin W.F., Phay S.,
Rojas-Bracho L., Ryan G.E., Shelden K.E.W., Slooten E., Taylor B.L., Vidal
O., Ding W., Whitty T.S. and Wang J.Y. 2019. *Bycatch in gillnet fisheries
threatens Critically Endangered small cetaceans and other aquatic megafauna*.
*Endangered Species Research* 40: 285-296. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00994

The conservation status of small cetaceans has significantly worsened since
the 1980s, when the baiji was the only species of small cetacean listed as
Endangered by IUCN. Now the baiji is almost certainly extinct and 13 other
species, subspecies, or populations (hereafter units-to-conserve or units)
of small cetaceans are listed as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red
List. Bycatch is the main threat to 11 of the CR units. Entanglement in
gillnets contributed to the extinction of the baiji and is responsible for
the imminent extinction of the vaquita. Unfortunately, there is no simple
technical solution to the problem of bycatch of small cetaceans. If the 8
CR units with 100 or fewer remaining individuals are to be saved,
conservation zones must be established where gillnets are eliminated and
bans on their use are strictly enforced. Recent experience with the vaquita
in Mexico demonstrates that enforcement of such conservation zones can be
very difficult. Ineffective enforcement is also a problem for at least 4 of
the other CR units. Time is very short and, unless major efforts are made
now to address the bycatch problem, the prospects for CR small cetaceans
and other at-risk aquatic megafauna are grim. The ultimate long-term
solution to the bycatch problem is the development of efficient,
inexpensive, alternative fishing gear that can replace gillnets without
jeopardizing the livelihoods of fishermen. Good fishery governance and the
direct involvement of fishing communities are also essential to the
successful conservation of most threatened populations of small cetaceans.

The paper is Open Access and available at:

Corresponding author: Robert L. Brownell Jr. (robert.brownell at noaa.gov)

Best regards,


Tilen Genov

| IUCN Cetacean Specialist Group |
| Morigenos - Slovenian Marine Mammal Society |
| Sea Mammal Research Unit, University of St Andrews |
| twitter: @TilenGenov <https://twitter.com/TilenGenov> | @Morigenos_org
<https://twitter.com/Morigenos_org> | @_SMRU_ <https://twitter.com/_SMRU_>
| @IUCNCetaceanSG <https://twitter.com/IUCNCetaceanSG> |
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