Ghost nets don’t only catch fish; they also entangle sea turtles, dolphins and porpoises, birds, sharks, seals, and more. Since hundreds of animals can be caught in a single net, you can see just how monumental this threat is.
With an estimated 30 or fewer remaining individuals, the vaquita are the focus of WWF’s new report calling for immediate, collective action to save the species from extinction. Prepared for WWF by Dalberg, Vanishing vaquita: saving the world’s most endangered marinemammal comes just before the two-year ban is due to expire at the end of May.
WWF’s Living Blue Planet Report on the health of the ocean finds that the marine vertebrate population has declined by 49 percent between 1970 and 2012. The report tracks 5,829 populations of 1,234 mammal, bird, reptile, and fish species through a marine living planet index. The evidence, analyzed by researchers at the Zoological Society of London, paints a troubling picture.
A tuna fishing vessel operating in the offshore waters of Pakistan safely released a giant sunfish that was entangled in its fishing net. After a struggle of about 20 minutes, the fishermen successfully freed this nearly six-foot-long sunfish weighing nearly 1,000 pounds.
Irrawaddy dolphins are an unusual species with small populations found in Southeast Asia. WWF works with local communities to develop fishery management zones to help sustain the fish population and conserve the species.
Gillnet fishing, one of the most common forms of fishing in the world, often leads to the accidental capture of non-targeted species. WWF is supporting work to illuminate nets so turtles can avoid swimming into them.
WWF places satellite tags on marine turtles in many areas around the world. The information collected from the tags helps us to design better management strategies for their conservation, such as creating marine protected areas for important feeding areas or addressing threats to nesting beaches.
There are fewer than 100 Irrawaddy dolphins in the Mekong River of Southeast Asia, and researchers fear the numbers are shrinking even further. But now the dolphins may have something to smile about. In September local government agencies in Cambodia agreed to work with WWF to conserve dolphins and minimize or eliminate deaths from gillnets.