© Brian J. Skerry/National Geographic Stock/WWF

Strong laws against bycatch

An estimated 40% of global fish catch is bycatch. Illegal fishers who are netting between 10 and 23 billion US dollars yearly, are part of the problem. Despite of national and international legislations, bycatch is still rampant.

There are at least 130 bycatch agreements, regulations and legislations for reducing bycatch worlwide which include legal measures on net mesh sizes, fishing areas, rules for discarding fish, requirements for bycatch mitigation measures, recovery plans for specific fish species, and international standards and best practices for fishing operations to address illegal fishing practices.

To have impact, these policies need to be implemented, monitored, controlled and enforced by regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs) and other national and international bodies. 
What is bycatch?

Millions of tonnes of fish each year are wasted as unwanted catches and hundreds of thousands of seabirds, marine mammals, turtles and other marine species are killed through destructive fishing practices.

This “incidental” catch is called bycatch. 

Factsheet: The Marine Mammal Protection Act & US Seafood Imports

Sea bird caught in a net, North Atlantic Ocean. rel= © WWF / Mike R. Jackson

What WWF is doing

WWF advocates with Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMO´s) to: 
  • strengthen, control and enforce legislation on bycatch and,
  • integrate conservation science into fisheries management 
  • develop, test and implement alternative fishing gear with partners

Logo for Smart Gear Competition rel= © Smart Gear

Find out more about WWF's competition to reward designs for fishing gear that reduces bycatch.