Dolphins and fishing nets

From: Phil Clapham (
Date: Wed Oct 10 2001 - 08:05:56 EDT


Well gillnets are a big problem all over the world, and they've killed
probably millions of marine mammals since the synthetic kind was
introduced a long time ago. They catch not only dolphins (which usually
die immediately because they can't escape), but also whales. Whales
usually are strong enough to drag the net away with them, but sometimes
it cuts into them very badly or picks up other stuff. Some whales die
from starvation because they can't move properly and feed with all that
net around them.

Making gillnets that don't catch so many marine mammals is difficult.
There are some ideas to put "weak links" (pieces which break easily) in
the net panels themselves, so that if a whale goes into the net the link
will break and the whale will be less likely to get wrapped up. But
these don't work very well for dolphins or porpoises. Scientists have
tried putting "pingers" - devices that make noise - on gill nets to warn
dolphins and porpoises away from them or let them know they're there so
they don't swim into them. This works sometimes, but it seems to be the
only solution.

Phil Clapham

> Zak Sobel wrote:
> hi my name is zak sobel and im doing a project. It's about how the
> fishermen can still use gillnets but not catch so many dolphins. If
> you have an answer for me then email me back at
> thank you bye.

The Society for Marine Mammalogy will be holding its 14th Biennial
Conference from 28 November to 3 December 2001, in Vancouver, BC.  Visit
the conference Web site at for full details of
this important meeting.

Phillip J. Clapham, Ph.D. Large Whale Biology Program Protected Species Branch Northeast Fisheries Science Center 166 Water Street Woods Hole, MA 02543, U.S.A.

tel. 508 495-2316 fax 508 495-2066 email:

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon Feb 25 2002 - 21:06:00 EST