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IWC Bycatch Mitigation Initiative- strategic assessment of potential work on bycatch [DRAFT]

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Marguerite Tarzia

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International Whaling Commission


Over the past three decades, there has been widespread acknowledgement within the International Whaling Commission of the significant threat to cetacean populations, and welfare concerns, caused by fisheries bycatch. This led to an agreement at IWC66 from the Commission to establish the Bycatch Mitigation Initiative (BMI). The BMI is made up of three interrelated components; a bycatch coordinator within the IWC Secretariat; a Standing Working Group (SWG) on Bycatch under the Conservation Committee (CC) and an Expert panel to advise the coordinator and the SWG on the development and implementation of a workplan to tackle cetacean bycatch. Given the complexity of tackling bycatch, with a need for research, management and policy work, the BMI will also rely on the involvement of a number of different bodies within the IWC, including the Scientific Committee (SC-where a wealth of existing research exists) and the CC and initiatives such as the Global Entanglement Response Network and Stranding Initiative. Given the urgency for action on this issue and the acknowledgement that other external organisations and bodies are already working on bycatch, there is a need to identify the actions where the IWC can bring about the most added value and influence. This document presents the preliminary findings of a strategic assessment, evaluating a variety of mechanisms for the potential role of the IWC in bringing about change to how cetacean bycatch is tackled at local, national, regional and international scales. Recommendations for both the BMI as a whole, and suggested actions for the SC are outlined for discussion during the SC. This document, once finalised, will then provide the basis for the development of the BMI strategic plan and workplan.

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