It seems as though conservationists may be too late in saving the critically endangered vaquita porpoises from extinction at the hands of gillnets. But there are other cetaceans facing the same threat around the globe.
That’s what makes the report of dolphin and dugong deaths near the Great Barrier Reef so distressing. Several snubfin dolphins and dugongs drowned in commercial fishing nets in recent months in the waters off northern Queensland.
"Some of these unfortunate marine mammal deaths relating to net fishing reinforce the importance of mitigating risks and ensuring ecologically sustainable fishery management arrangements are in place,” a spokesman from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) said in a statement to ABC.
The response from the GBRMPA comes only after inquiries from the Australian media. The GBRMPA has declined to release images of the deceased cetaceans, citing privacy restrictions. However, they insist that the commercial fishermen followed all protocols when using the gillnets.
As a result, the WWF Australia is calling for an expansion of net-free zones throughout the Great Barrier Reef region. The organization’s head of oceans department, Richard Leck, also encouraged for more transparency from government authorities regarding the deaths.
“We need this information to be in the public realm to inform people what's happening and to get those best solutions to protect these very vulnerable and incredibly charismatic species into the future," Leck told ABC.
Read more about the cetacean gillnet deaths on the Great Barrier Reef in this investigative article by ABC.
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