Large whale disentanglement is becoming an increasing global problem with commercial fishing gears and gill nets used within the migratory corridors of whale species, including a rise in ghost gears and lost and abandoned nets.
Marine mammal entanglement is becoming an increasing global problem with commercial fishing gears and gill nets used within the migratory corridors of whale species. These is also a rise in ghost gears and lost and abandoned nets which, as the name suggests are nets that come loose from anchorage and drift uncontrolled in the ocean currents, causing injury and death to marine mammals and other ocean animals.
Four humpback whale entanglements have been recorded in Kenya since 2009 and anecdotal evidence indicates that this is a more frequent occurrence than we may have previously understood especially in more remote coastal areas such as Ngomeni and northern Kenya.
WMA determined that there was a need set up a rapid response disentanglement team, consisting of multi stakeholders including local fishermen, the Kenyan Navy, Maritime Police, KWS and Fisheries. This is standard practice around the world in order to protect the animals and for health and safety reasons to prevent fishers and other marine users from entering the water during rescue attempts, with a high human risk factor.
In 2019 expert International Whaling Commission trainers David Mattila and Michael Meyer and together with the Kenyan State Department of Fisheries and KMMREC to host a three day disentanglement workshop in Watamu.
International disentanglement trainers provided classroom workshops and in water training to 30 fishermen, and including marine affiliated Kenya government departments. We are entering discussions with the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries to locate the rapid response team in Watamu, managed by WMA with the SDoF recognising the need to tackle the growing entanglement issue.
If you sight a humpback whale please contact the KMMREC team and please do not enter the water and attempt to free the animal. To do so will put yourselves at risk of injury and/or death.