Conservation of Harbour porpoises in the Baltic Sea

Harbour porpoises are a kind of small dolphin that play an important role in the balance of coastal ecosystems. While widely distributed throughout the Northern Hemisphere, the population of harbour porpoises in the Baltic Sea, of only about 600 individuals, is classified as critically endangered, owing mainly to bycatch in fishing nets.

Conservation status: Baltic:- Category CR (Critically Endangered) in the IUCN Red List.
Wild population: 700.000 (600 in the Baltic Sea)
Captive population: Less than 20.

Objectives
Reduce bycatch of Harbour porpoises in gillnets, the main threat to the species in the Baltic Sea.

Strategies
Since 2004 Loro Parque Foundation has funded projects with different NGOs to assess the status of the population and develop acoustic devices to help prevent them being accidentally caught, scaring them away from the areas with nets.

Actions
A warning system is under development to alert the Harbour porpoises and prevent their accidental entanglement in fishing nets. The process includes a bioacoustic study of warning signals emitted naturally by these marine animals, and to adequately reproduce these by ultrasound so as to apply them to the fishing gear that causes the danger.

Germany
Baltic Sea

Local Partner
Society for the Conservation of marine Mammals (GSM)
F3

Other organizations involved
Universidad de Kiel

Funds since 2004: 213,105 $

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