Highlands & Islands

New Scottish marine initiative to look at entanglement

Dolphin Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption Dolphins are among the animals at risk of entanglements with fishing gear

Six organisations have come together to try and better understand marine animals' entanglements with fishing gear along Scotland's coast.

The Scottish Entanglement Alliance (Sea) said it will work closely with the inshore fishing industry to find out how much of an issue it is.

Another aim is to raise greater awareness of entanglements.

Sea said whales and dolphins are among the animals that have been harmed after getting tangled up in ropes or nets.

Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme and Scottish Creel Fishermen's Federation are members of the new research partnership.

The others are Whale and Dolphin Conservation, Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust and British Divers Marine Life Rescue.

Sea is the first partnership of its kind in Europe, bringing together fishing industry representatives, researchers and conservation charities.

Its aim is to provide a "coordinated, comprehensive engagement" and monitoring programme to better understand the scale and impact of marine animal entanglements in Scottish seas.

Image copyright Laura Shirra BDMLR
Image caption A humpback whale was freed from prawn fishing gear in a rescue in 2016

Two years ago, rescuers freed a 40ft (12m) humpback whale after it became entangled in prawn fishing gear.

A fisherman raised the alarm after spotting the animal caught in creels anchored in Loch Eriboll.

British Divers Marine Life Rescue was offered boats by a nearby fish farm in its effort to free the whale from the ropes.

At one point, rescuers used one of the ropes like a horses bridle to control the whale and save it from harm.

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