The demand for tuna by consumers is having a deadly effect on cetaceans in the Indian Ocean, with over 60,000 dolphins, whales and porpoises being killed each year as by-catch in the western and central Indian Ocean.
Some of the species being affected are Risso’s, Spinner and Bottlenose dolphins, plus False Killer, Humpback and Bryde’s whales.
The cetaceans are being killed by gill nets; a fishing net which is hung vertically so that fish get trapped in it by their gills, which are commonly used in commercial fishing. The gill nets are being placed in the seas around India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Iran, Oman and Yemen by tuna fishermen. Others are falling victim to other methods of fishing, such as purse seine and longline fishing.
Dr Charles Anderson is a British Marine Biologist who is based in the Maldives. He estimated the figure of 60,000 in a report commissioned by the International Pole & Line Foundation (IPNLF) in 2014 and this figure could indeed now be even higher. Dr Anderson stated:
“Tuna fisheries are having a profound, and in some cases disastrous, impact on the whale and dolphin populations of the tropical Indian Ocean,” he concluded.
“There has been a widespread failure to monitor cetacean bycatch and even to enforce existing regulations, let alone attempt to reduce mortality. There are many issues, and few easy solutions.”
“The enormous, and still growing, gillnet fishery in the region should be of particular concern,” he added. He was confident, however, that given the political will it would be perfectly possible to “make real progress” in reducing the number of whales, dolphins and porpoises killed by tuna fishermen.
Read more about this report here fish2fork.com