Cetaceans bycatch study

Cetaceans bycatch study

This year the team of Green Balkans NGO has carried out research activities of incidental catch of cetaceans in the Black Sea turbot fishing. They are part of CeNoBS and “Monitoring and mitigation of cetacean bycatch in Bulgarian waters” projects and are continuation of the launched in 2019 pilot activities to introduce pingers as a mitigation measure in turbot fishery. The project aims to collect data on the scale of bycatches, to propose solutions and measures that could improve the existing situation. A total of 190 pingers of two types were installed for this purpose with which a total of 151.5 km of fishing nets were surveyed during two fishing campaigns in spring and summer.

The data generally show a lower level of cetaceans’ bycatch this year compared to last year, with the main affected species again being the Harbour porpoise with 42 individuals – 5 during the spring campaign and 37 during the summer. The high number of bycaught females, many of whom are nursing mothers, also made striking impression. This means that orphaned calves have no chance of survival and subsequently die of starvation and neglect, thus becoming indirect victims of the bycatch.

In the course of the study, data and samples from the cetaceans bycaught were also collected in order to study their health status, eating habits, sexual structure, gastric contents, parasites, etc.

The entanglement of marine mammals in fishing nets is a huge problem worldwide, which has negative consequences both for the conservation of populations of these ecosystem-important species and for the livelihoods of fishing communities. Data from international studies show that more than 300,000 cetaceans become entangled and drown in fishing nets each year. For the Black Sea, data from past bycatch level studies show that this is one of the most significant human impacts, being the largest for the Harbour porpoises.

Attempts to use pingers in the Black Sea are scarce, and due to the small number of devices used and the fishing nets equipped, the results are not reliable and to properly analyze the data and find a working solution to the problem a large-scale and continuous study of the problem is needed. Exactly that is the goal of the Green Balkans campaigns.
"Supporting the implementation of the MSFD in the Black Sea by establishing a regional cetacean monitoring system (D1) and noise monitoring (D11) for achieving GES" - CeNoBS project is co-funded by the European Union through DG Environment of European Commission.

“Monitoring and mitigation of cetacean bycatch in Bulgarian waters” is funded by the Supplementary Conservation Funds of ACCOBAMS (Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area).

For additional information:
Dimitar Popov - Green Balkans, Phone: 0885 108712; e-mail: