IFAW has helped investigate solutions to the problems of:
We work not only with ocean researchers, but with local communities and fishing industries to help reduce such dangers.
Ocean noise pollution
A cacophony of man-made sounds pollute the otherwise peaceful underwater world that cetaceans inhabit. This makes it difficult for whales to communicate, mate and feed. In some cases, they cannot detect ships and this leads to accidental collisions, one of the leading causes of death for right whales around the world.
IFAW has been very active in addressing ocean noise with a number of initiatives:
An independent scientific review panel including IFAW representatives concluded in 2013 that a mass stranding five years prior of approximately 100 melon-headed whales in Madagascar was primarily triggered by a survey vessel using an echosounder system. Not long after this conclusion, European Parliament voted to make underwater seismic survey exploration subject to Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA), a significant step to reduce marine noise pollution.
In 2013, new acoustic data from Cornell University’s Bioacoustics Research Program, funded by Oceana and IFAW, found that critically endangered North Atlantic right whales off the Virginia coast were in the path of proposed seismic airgun use. This analysis is important as the U.S. government considers the use of seismic airguns to look for oil and gas below the ocean floor in an area stretching all the way from Delaware to Florida.
IFAW has advocated for legislation to slow down ship traffic, developed programs to increase awareness of the problem, and created technology to help mariners navigate waters with whale populations.
Entanglement in Fishing Gear
Commercial fishermen around the world use nets, line and other gear to harvest their catch, but in the process, whales, dolphins and porpoises can become tangled in this gear. Lost or abandoned gear is a particularly dangerous threat to migrating whales. The threat is unintentional and accidental, but the consequences can be deadly.
IFAW supports these initiatives:
Science-based catch quotas to promote efficiency, productivity and profit while minimizing unintended threats and “by catch” of marine species
Promoting gear innovations such as sinking or neutrally buoyant line to reduce and prevent entanglement
Expert interventions to free entangled whales from fishing gear
For more on these, click here.