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Incidental mortality and injury (“bycatch”) in fisheries is a threat to the conservation and welfare of marine mammals.

First published:
8 October 2021
Last updated:

Marine mammals include cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) and seals. The UK Government and Devolved Administrations remain committed to:

  • tackling this issue, and
  • ensuring that our practices align with international standards.

Therefore, all wild-capture commercial fishers must report any incidental mortality and injury (bycatch) of marine mammals during fishing operations. You need to report these to the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) within 48 hours of the end of the trip. This will be incorporated into licence conditions no later than 30th November 2021.

The data will feed into UK bycatch monitoring programmes. It will help to identify and reduce fisheries interactions with sensitive marine species. This aligns with a broader programme of work to meet the Fisheries Act ecosystem objective that includes:

“incidental catches of sensitive species are minimised and, where possible, eliminated”.

It is also necessary so the UK can continue to export wild-capture seafood to the United States from 1st January 2023. This is required by the US Marine Mammal Protection Act.

You can report information by submitting an online form or, if preferred, by telephone. Data required as per the licence condition is:

  • vessel name
  • vessel registration number
  • interaction date
  • approx. interaction time
  • approx. location (lat/long)
  • species of marine mammal
  • gear type
  • target species
  • whether an observer is present
  • any other information
  • action taken (if any)