Interim report from the Scottish Entanglement Alliance (SEA) on previously undocumented fatal entanglements of minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) in Scottish inshore waters
Ellie MacLennan, Russell Leaper and Sarah Dolman
Mortality due to entanglement in static fishing gear is a growing concern for minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) in Scottish waters, however a thorough understanding of these incidents is lacking. In a bid to address this six organisations have partnered to form the Scottish Entanglement Alliance (SEA), to better understand the scale and impacts of marine animal entanglement. To achieve this, Scottish inshore creel fishermen have been participating in short, semi-structured interviews to gather data on the frequency of entanglements within the last 10 years, and the consequences of these events. 109 interviews have been completed to date, and 68% of those questioned have reported experiencing at least one marine animal entanglement in the specified timeframe. Of the 105 separate entanglement incidents involving a range of cetacean and other species reported, 37 have involved minke whales. 30 of these have been fatal and none have previously been formally recorded, revealing a much higher rate of entanglement for this species than previously reported. These reports have also come from interviews representing less than 10% of the creel fishing effort, suggesting that the true entanglement rate is much higher.