From 10 to 12 February the Principality of Monaco took part in an international meeting, discussing ways to reduce the number of cetaceans being accidentally caught in fishing gear.

Cetaceans are a group of aquatic mammals, including dolphins, whales, porpoises and many other species, all currently being threatened by humans. More specifically, they are at risk of becoming a bycatch. A bycatch is when a cetacean, or any other aquatic species, is accidentally caught and tangled up in fishing gear. Currently, this is the number one cause of death amongst cetaceans, across all European waters. From the Baltic sea to the Atlantic ocean, the Mediterranean to the Black sea, a bycatch is sure to be found.

In response to this worsening problem, ACCOBAMS and ASCOBANS, two treaties for marine protection, put a working group together in 2019 to focus specifically on the issue of acccidental catches. Aiming to monitor and prevent these accidents, the group came together this week for their first meeting.

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Over 150 experts looking for new solutions

Owing to the health crisis, the first meeting was held online. Despite this, over 150 people came together from all over the world. From members of the working group to experts in the field and people interested by the topic, the meeting was well attended.

During the first two days, experts took to the mic and shared their experiences. Then on the final day, potential solutions and strategies were discussed, as well as the priorities for the working group moving forward.

Aquatic species getting accidentally caught in fishing gear is just one of a whole host of problems being faced. Marine vessels are also posing a significant threat to mammals in the Mediterranean.