Dolphins, marine turtles, seals, seabirds, sharks, juvenile fish, fish with little commercial value, corals … billions of unwanted animals are caught every year by fishing boats then discarded dead or dying back into the ocean.
Known as bycatch, the capture of these so-called “non-target species” is a major fisheries management problem, wasting time and hundreds of millions of dollars in damaged gear and inefficient fishing methods. It’s also one of the greatest threats to the marine environment, wasting a valuable natural resource and causing dramatic declines in populations of many marine species. As such, WWF is working on bycatch as a priority conservation issue.
WWF’s Bycatch Initative is working to trial new fishing technologies, ensure policy frameworks support bycatch reduction, and identify effective incentives for fishermen to reduce bycatch. The Programme works with academia, the fishing industry, other conservation organizations, and governments to stimulate new solutions and promote them worldwide. The work particularly focuses on priority species, fisheries, and fish populations affected by bycatch.