Fishermen get skills to free animals caught in nets

Brian Shar, the director of marine mammal rescue at IWC's Global Whale Entanglements Response Network, with fishermen during the training. [Amos Kiarie, Standard]

Fishermen from Mombasa County are undergoing training on ways to safely disentangle marine giants like whales and dolphins caught in their nets while fishing.

The training by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is in response to the growing number of encounters between local fishermen and whales. 

Director of Marine mammal rescue at IWC's Global Whale Entanglements Response Network, Brian Shar, said the training is crucial for local fishermen, in ensuring their safety when disentangling marine mammals.

"It also enhances their ability to effectively assist entangled marine mammals," he said.

He added that by promoting collaboration between conservation organizations and local communities, the initiative aims to foster a culture of responsible and knowledgeable marine mammal rescue practices.

Whales and dolphins are essential for maintaining the health of the marine ecosystem and combating climate change. With their role in producing oxygen and sustaining fish stocks, it is imperative to protect them from harm caused by human activities.

Michael Mwang'ombe from Kenya Marine Mammal Research and Conservation said there has been a notable increase in the frequency of incidents where fishermen encounter entangled mammals while out at sea.

"The rise in these cases has sparked alarm among marine conservationists, who point to the potential dangers posed to both marine mammals and fishermen alike," he said.

Silvester Menza, a fisherman, said the training has equipped them with invaluable knowledge. "Large marine mammals destroy our fishing nets and boats. We are forced to adapt by using hand lines since fishing nets are expensive," he said.