Cetacean Bycatch


Assessing bycatch in gillnet fisheries

Gillnet fishing

SMRU have been placing scientific observers on board gillnet vessels around the UK since 1995. We do this to document where and how cetaceans, mainly harbour porpoises, get caught accidentally. We also work with CEFAS and SEERAD to understand how gillnet fisheries have been changing in order to assess trends in porpoise bycatch over the years and by region. This work addresses international commitments that the UK has under both the Habitats Directive and ASCOBANS.

Researcher: Simon Northridge


Understanding how bycatch occurs

SMRU have been involved in trials of pingers in the Celtic Sea, where we documented a 93% reduction in porpoise bycatch associated with the use of acoustic pinger. Further fieldwork with pingers is ongoing through student projects. We are also running field trails to determine any differences in porpoise bycatch rate that may be associated with different types of netting, and working towards using acoustic detection to monitor porpoise movements around nets.

Researcher: Simon Northridge

Collaborators: Cornish Fish Producers Association, University College, Cork

Dolphin bycatch in pelagic trawls

Over the past two years much of SMRU's work on bycatch has focused on pelagic trawlers. We have been working with fishermens organisations to gain an objective picture of where and when dolphin bycatch may occur in UK based pelagic fisheries. Our work has been concentrated in the English Channel, where, working with Scottish pair trawlers we have been testing a prototype exclusion grid as a means of minimising the number of dolphins taken in pelagic trawls.

Researcher: Simon Northridge

Collaborators: Scottish Pelagic Fishermens Association, Sea Fish Industry Authority, Institute of Marine Research, Norway.