Research Presented on Marine Mammal Avoidance While Fishing

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Jacob Resneck/KMXT

Research is continuing to find ways to avoid the marine mammals from getting caught in fishing gear. The problem can be separated into two categories: scavenging whales and seals that help themselves to fish caught in gear. And marine mammals such as harbor porpoises that accidentally become entangled or whales that stumble into nets.

Kodiak-based associate professor Kate Wynne of the University of Alaska Fairbanks has been researching this problem. At a Tuesday lunch seminar she gave a public presentation at the Fisheries Industrial Technology Center on Near Island.

— mammals 1 :23 "So ultimately everyone’s … as much as possible."

Wynne admits the problem of marine mammals intentionally picking nets is the biggest problem and the hardest to solve. Her research centers on preventing what she calls stumblers, those that unwittingly encounter fishing boats and gear. She says there are a suite of options fishermen can use and her research last summer looked at the effectiveness of different methods.

— mammals 2 :39 "The most creative one … and that seemed to work."

Some species are protected under the Endangered Species Act and there are serious penalties for harming marine mammals. Another problem, Wynne says, is there’s very little legal guidance for what fishermen can and can’t do, though she hastens to add that fire crackers shouldn’t be used within 100 meters of an animal.

— mammals 3 :37 "Currently there is no … hard fast – use this device."

Wynne’s research continues this summer when she plans to test beacons that emit low frequency sounds designed to warn marine mammals of net hazards.

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