Protect Whales From Crab Traps
Center for     Biological     Diversity   

Protect Whales From Crab Traps

Entangled whale

An increasing number of whales are being entangled in fishing gear off the U.S. West Coast, and the resulting suffering and death are sickening. Please take a moment right now to demand immediate reforms of California fishery practices to protect marine wildlife.

Thousands of vertical fishing lines off the West Coast create a dangerous labyrinth that whales must navigate to complete their migrations. These lines get caught on whale tails and flukes, leading to laceration, infection, and death by starvation or drowning. A photographic study from 2004 to 2006 showed that at least half the humpback whales off the West Coast carry scars from entanglement. And when whales die due to entanglement, their deaths are painful and slow — one study found that fatally entangled whales can take an average of six months to die.

And it's getting worse. Over the last three years, incidences of whale entanglement have been on a sharp rise with no signs of stopping. According to the National Marine Fisheries Service, there were 71 unique reports of whale entanglements off the West Coast in 2016 — mostly humpback whales caught in lines connected to crab traps. That's up from 61 reported whale entanglements in 2015, 30 in 2014, and an annual average of eight entanglements during the previous decade. This is a clear sign that something has gone badly awry.

Using the form on this page, send a letter urging wildlife officials to protect whales by reassessing and updating crab fishery practices to reduce entanglements.

Please take action by Jan. 22, 2018.

Photo of entangled whale by Scott Benson/NOAA Fisheries - MMHSRP Permit 18786.

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