Canada cancels help for whales, dolphins caught by accident–308,000 worldwide
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2003:
CAPE BROYLE, Newfoundland; BERLIN, Germany; LIMA,
Peru–Environment Canada has ceased funding Whale Release &
Stranding, a nonprofit organization that frees trapped whales and
other marine mammals from fishing gear, and the Department of
Fisheries and Oceans and Parks Canada have not picked up the slack,
Dene Moore of Canadian Press reported on June 15.
Whale release & Stranding received 55 reports of marine
mammals caught in fishing gear during 2001-2002, director Wayne
Ledwell told Moore. Ledwell and assistant Julie Huntington are the
only two paid employees of the group, which was partially funded by
the Canadian Coat guard until 2000, when Environment Canada took
In Berlin, Germany, the same day, the World Wildlife Fund
presented to the International Whaling Commission an estimate by andy
Read of the Duke University Marine Laboratory in Beaufort, North
Carolina, that 308,000 whales, dolphins, and porpoises drown each
year after becoming entangled in fishing gear.
Read and Michael Moore of the Woods Hole Oceanographic
Institute on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, called this “accidental
bycatch” a greater threat to the survival of cetaccean species than
even commercial whaling, collisions with ships, and pollution, all
of which are also acknowledged threats.
British stranding network coordinator Richard Sabin of the
Natural History Museum in London estimates that as many as 10,000
dolphins and porpoises were drowned or otherwise fatally injured by
trawslers off Britain and France during the first three months of
About 3,000 dolphins per year are killed by tuna fishers in
the western Pacific, according to an August 2002 report by the
Southwest Fisheries Science center, funded by the U.S. National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The discovery of the remains of 55 dolphins who were
apparently drowned in fishing nets along the coast of Orissa, India,
between February 1997 and November 2002 indicates that illegal
trawling continues in the Indian Ocean despite a ban imposed on
fishing within 20 kilometres of the Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary. The
purpose of the ban was to protect nesting sea turtles, but the
sanctuary also includes populations of Irrawaddy, Gangetic, and
Deliberate dolphin hunting continues chiefly in connection
with the so-called “drive fisheries” of the Faroe Islands in the
North Atlantic and Iki Island, Japan, and along the west coast of
South America. German biologist Stefan austermuhle, director of the
Lima-based group Mundo Azul, estimates that Peruvian fishers kill
about 3,000 dolphins per year.
Surveillance by Mundo Azul led to the June 3 arrests of
alleged dolphin meat dealers Rafael Zapata Sanginez, 48, and
Nicanor Espimnoza Albino, 56. They were the fifth and sixth dolphin
meat dealers nabbed through the work of Mundo Azul, Austermuhle said.
Just to the north, Ecuadoran law enforcement on behalf of
marine animals of all kinds has been boosted during the past three
years by the almost contant presence of patrol vessels from the Sea
shepherd Conservation Society off the Galapagos Islands. Sea
Shepherd founder Paul Watson said in April 2003 that his crews had
intercepted 14 alleged maritime poachers in the preceding 12 months.
Unfortunately, judicial cooperation after the interceptions is rare.
For example, a boat named El Dorado was seized on May 31,
2002, with 70 dead or injured dolphins trapped in its nets. Their
struggles to escape were docmented on video.
“The captain was fined four cents and spent two weeks in
‘jail’ aboard his own vessel, with shore leave privileges,” World
Wildlife Fund spokesperson Lee Poston said.
According to Poston, the El Dorado “is a Colombian vessel
affiliated with the Ecuadoran company Inepaca, which supplies
seafood to Van Camps, Montecristi, Chicken of the Sea, El Capitan,
and Sea View.