Teaching whale rescue workshops in Tonga

August 18 2014

We're funding workshops that teach people how to rescue whales caught in fishing gear on their local beaches

Training most recently took place in Neiafu, Tonga, in the South Pacific. Over two days of teaching and practical exercises, 10 participants were taught how to safely disentangle whales trapped in fishing gear, and provided with a kit of specialist tools to help them cut whales free safely.

Among the attendees were local whale watch companies and members of the government, including two staff from Vanuatu’s Fisheries Agency.

An estimated 308,000 whales and dolphins die entangled in fishing gear each year. Large whales can often drag fishing gear along with them for several months before they die.

It is highly dangerous to approach these tangled whales without any training. But with the necessary tools and knowledge, those who want to help can be equipped to release entangled whales safely. This is the aim of the workshops, which are organized by the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

So far, we’ve funded these workshops in the Dominic Republic, Ecuador and the Wider Caribbean.

Our support for the workshops was praised by the IWC at their recent marine debris workshop in Hawaii, during which we were invited to present our Sea Change campaign and Global Ghost Gear Initiative to 30 international experts.

While we were there, we also took the opportunity to help animals in a very practical way, by joining the Hawaii Wildlife Fund in a mission to clear a huge number of nets from the beaches following Hurricane Iselle.

Elizabeth Hogan, World Animal Protection Campaigns Manager for Oceans and Wildlife said, “Seeing the number of nets brought to shore by Hurricane Iselle really highlighted the vast scale of the problem. The type of nets we collected showed that they did not originate from Hawaiian fisheries, but from waters as far flung as Asia, demonstrating why the problem of ghost fishing gear is one that must be tackled both at a global level as well as locally. The impact on marine animals and communities is often felt miles away from where fishing gear is discarded. The Hawaii Wildlife Fund are doing incredible work and by working with partners like them and the IWC, we can coordinate global efforts to stop fishing gear from being abandoned. “

Read more about the Sea Change campaign and Global Ghost Gear initiative.

With the necessary tools and knowledge, people who want to help can be equipped to release entangled whales safely

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