Stow nets blamed for sharp decline in population of finless porpoise

Park Sae-jin Reporter Posted : 2017-01-12 17:56 Updated : 2017-01-12 17:56
글씨작게 글씨크게

A finless Porpoise is being rescued after being tangled up in a net. [Yonhap Photo]

The greatest threat of accidental death for the finless porpoise, designated as a threatened maritime mammal in South Korea, is stow nets used widely by fishermen.

A coastguard report showed a total of 9,710 aquatic mammals were found dead, many of them trapped accidentally in nets, in South Korean waters between 2011 and 2015, including 6,573 finless porpoises or 67.7 percent. Dolphins were second with 1,788 (18.4 percent) and minke whales with 410 (4.2 percent).

Drive hunting is banned in South Korea, but whales face threats from by-catch and marine pollution. Over the same five-year period, 6,550 finless porpoises were killed by entanglement in nets while only 23 were poached.

Finless porpoises live in the coastal waters of Asia, staying in shallow waters close to the shore, in waters with soft or sandy seabeds, or in estuaries and mangrove swamps.

Since this species remains in coastal waters, it has a high degree of interaction with humans, which often puts the finless porpoise at risk. Large numbers of this species are trapped in nets.

The species was designated as a maritime mammal to be conserved by the government last year. The population of finless porpoises living in waters around the Korean peninsula has declined sharply from about 36,000 in 2005 to 13,000 in 2011, according to a survey conducted by the National Institute of Fisheries Science.