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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries
DPIRD's Dr Jason How monitoring whale activity
​DPIRD's Dr Jason How monitoring whale activity
Friday 4 October 2019

Whale migration research helps reduce environmental impact of fisheries

​With tens of thousands of whales migrating along the Western Australian coast each year, understanding their migration patterns is important in helping reduce the risk of them becoming entangled with fishing gear.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development's (DPIRD) Fisheries scientists have contributed to management strategies that have seen the number of whale entanglements with fishing gear drop by more than a third – from 31 in 2013 to 19 last year, despite more than 60% more whales migrating along the coast in 2018 than in 2013.

DPIRD’s Fisheries scientists work closely with the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attraction’s Parks and Wildlife Service rescue team that locates and frees whales that become entangled in fishing gear.

A recently developed whale buoy device, developed by DPIRD scientists and funded by the Western Rock Lobster industry, has been a breakthrough in helping rescue teams disentangle whales from fishing gear.

The buoy is attached to the entanglement that trails behind the whale and enables the rescue team to track it while they set up a strategy to free the whale.

Satellite tracking of free-swimming whales has also provided valuable data for WA’s fisheries scientists to evaluate and share with other research organisations and the fishing industry. 

Fixing satellite tags to free-swimming whales has helped build a bigger picture of migration pathways and how the whales move along the WA coast.

Watch a video about DPIRD whale research​ on our Youtube page.

Last modified: 22/11/2019 10:17 AM

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