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Global priorities for reduction of cetacean bycatch. Scientific Committee document SC/56/BC2, International Whaling Commission, July 2004, Sorrento, Italy

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  • Economics
  • Political Science


Progress at reducing the scale and conservation impact of cetacean bycatch has been slow, sporadic and limited to a few specific fisheries or circumstances. As a result bycatch remains perhaps the greatest immediate and well-documented threat to cetacean populations globally. Having recognized the critical importance of reducing bycatch levels to prevent the depletion, and in some cases extinction, of cetacean populations, World Wildlife Fund-US launched a global bycatch initiative early in 2002. Their strategy calls on governmental and non-governmental bodies to move quickly, cooperatively and thoughtfully to achieve bycatch reduction. As a supportive step a working group was established to identify priorities and provide guidance on how financial and other resources should be invested to address bycatch issues. The group will conduct a global survey of cetacean bycatch problems, classify and rank those problems according to an agreed set of criteria and provide a clear rationale for each problem assigned high priority for funding and intervention. The working group will emphasise: (1) situations that are especially critical (e.g. a species’ or population’s survival is immediately at risk from bycatch) and are not being addressed adequately; (2) circumstances where rapid progress could be made with a modest investment of resources; (3) situations in which bycatch is believed to pose a threat to cetaceans but a quantitative assessment is needed to verify the risk; and (4) fisheries in which a currently available solution (technical, socioeconomic or a combination) appears feasible. The report of the working group will be directed at governmental decision makers, aid agencies, nongovernmental organizations and related audiences.

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