Save whales from fishing gear entanglement, Latin America

We have funded training to Mexico’s whale disentanglement network as part of our Sea Change campaign. This means that more entangled whales can now be responded and saved.

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Karel Beets (and Francisco ‘Ricky” Rebolledo (both members of Red de Asistencia a Ballenas Enmalladas) were recently able to participate in a three-week-long apprenticeship program at the Center for Coastal Studies (CCS), so that they can help others rescue whales.

Rescue whales from fishing gear can be dangerous and difficult because of many factors. Proper training is required. These two RABEN members are now able to help others rescue entangled whales in a safe, efficient, and successful manner. Karel, Ricky have also had the opportunity to update and refresh their skills through the apprenticeship.

I wrote earlier this year about my trip to Cape Cod with members of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), Global Whale Entanglement Response Network. I also shared the story of a humpback that was successfully freed from its fishing line. The Network now has the ability to train others and can perform more rescues in Latin America, just like the one in Cape Cod.

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Few people have the skills and knowledge to save whales

The Cape Cod humpback whale was one of those lucky ones. However, the danger posed by fishing equipment is not limited to Cape Cod. It can be active gear (fishing gear in use) or ghost gear (abandoned and lost fishing gear). Only a few people are able to help large whales escape the dangers of fishing nets, lines and ropes. After Karel’s apprenticeship is over, Ricky can help others.

Karel explains how he became a rescuer for entangled whales. He continued, “When I was offered the chance to join RABEN, I knew it would be a great opportunity for me to help in safe and organized ways.”

Ricky and Karel have helped to train rescue teams in seven states along Mexico’s Pacific coast. They hope to expand the network’s reach and capacity, increasing the chances of rescues in this region.

Ricky said, “It was a great experience to spend 3 weeks with CCS. I learned about how the team responds and that it was incredible to be part of that.” “My motivation to take part in this training was so that I could do it safely and share what we learned with other RABEN teams in Mexico, and South America.

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Prevention is the best method to end suffering

While they enjoy teaching others and improving their disentanglement skills, Ricky and Karel emphasize the importance of preventing entanglements. They both run workshops to prevent entanglements with fishermen and train others. Karel says that these workshops allow them to build good communication with fishermen and collaborate with them. Ricky said, “Our commitment to fisheries is teach them prevention.”

World Animal Protection is committed to protecting all sea animals from being entangled. We not only clean up ghost gear, but also work with communities and fishing companies to reduce loss and recycle any gear we find in the ocean.

We are working to make the ocean safer for all who live there by establishing the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI), a cross sectoral alliance that seeks to solve the problem of abandoned and lost fishing gear around the world.

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Have you seen ghost gear in your neighborhood? Tell us about it

Report any ghost gear you find on our Sea Change map. We need to know where and when ghost gear is found so we can identify hotspots for them and take immediate action to protect sea animals most at risk. Together, we can make a difference in the world by working together to protect sea animals for future generations.