Cetacean Bycatch Workshop: Hauling Up Solutions

The Reducing Cetacean Bycatch project, funded by Defra and facilitated by Cefas, is working with experts and stakeholders to develop collaborative partnerships, improve understanding of UK cetacean bycatch, and identify and trial ways to better monitor and mitigate bycatch.

In March 2019, Cefas, ZSL and Defra hosted a unique, collaborative workshop focused on the issue of cetacean bycatch in UK fisheries. Exploring existing and new methods for monitoring and mitigation, the workshop brought together voices from across fishing, academia, science and technology. This wide range of stakeholders collaborated to envision and identify practical, affordable, and effective next steps to bring cetacean bycatch in the UK to as close to zero as possible.


Delegate pack

Full event report

There is no easy solution to cetacean bycatch but we can’t make significant progress unless we all work together


- Catherine Bell, Defra

Report: Key areas of agreement

Although there were differing opinions within the room on the rate and level of change, there was a deep commitment to genuine action on driving down cetacean bycatch in UK commercial fisheries.

The workshop was divided into two clear sections – monitoring and mitigation – for which current methods as well as future opportunities were identified and evaluated.

The invited stakeholders discussed options and collaboratively developed recommendations for future monitoring and mitigation approaches. These specific recommendations sit below several overarching principles, which were identified as key:

  • Incentivise collaboration between the fishing industry and all stakeholders (including the wider supply chain) and ensure fishermen are involved at the heart of work to reduce cetacean bycatch;
  • Where possible, bring monitoring and mitigation together – and balance the need for more information with the need to act;
  • Work across boundaries: ‘we share our waters’ – a strategic approach is needed to ensure actions protect and monitor cetaceans which move across national boundaries.

A detailed list of recommendations is included in the final event report.

Detailed SWOT analyses carried out during the workshop


Conclusions and next steps

Defra and Cefas are taking forward the recommendations of this workshop to develop a more coordinated and collaborative stakeholder-led approach to tackling bycatch in the UK. Next steps include a series of activities around ‘local solutions to local challenges’, including the establishment of a pilot regional focus group in Cornwall; the integration and balancing of monitoring and mitigation, including the expansion of an industry-led cetacean bycatch monitoring trial around the Cornish peninsula; and the collation and validation of all UK monitoring data streams into a digital hub.

Full conclusion and list of next steps

Cefas, Defra and ZSL invite proactive input from anyone with expertise or experience on this issue to contribute and disseminate information about the project and workshop. Stay in touch, collaborate and read about developments with the Reducing Cetacean Bycatch project:

Within this project, we want to bring together perspectives from all the different groups - fishermen, scientists, engineers, software developers and environmentalists - exchange experiences, break down barriers and understand each other’s perspectives. Through collaboration we will identify better ways to monitor and reduce cetacean bycatch.


- Stuart Hetherington, Cefas, Project lead: Reducing Cetacean Bycatch Project

Team Involved

  • Catherine Bell, Senior Policy Advisor, Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
  • Stuart Hetherington - Senior Marine Biologist, Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science 
  • Rob Deaville - Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP) Project Manager, Zoological Society of London
  • Joanna Barker -  Marine and Freshwater Conservation Programme Project Manager, Zoological Society of London
  • Milly Oakley - Event Manager, Zoological Society of London
  • Katrina Ryan - Director, Mindfully Wired Communications
  • Charlotte Tindall - Communications Consultant



If you have any follow-up questions, please contact: stuart.hetherington@cefas.co.uk

Continue the conversation on Facebook and Twitter using #HaulingUpSolutions.