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Saving The Whales With The Aussie Pinger

Each year around the world enormous numbers of marine mammals are caught in both commercial fishing nets and the shark nets protecting our beaches. Now an Australian company has come up with a way to warn cetaceans - dolphins, porpoises and soon whales ? away from nets and hopefully save many of these magnificent creatures from becoming what is euphemistically known as "by-catch".

by Ross Tester

Commercial fishermen hate seeing whales, dolphins or porpoises entangled in their nets.

Fishermen would much rather large mammals stay away from their trawl nets. Unfortunately, the very fish they are catching often attracts such animals – and they end up as part of the catch.

Apart from the damage to the nets (and the down-time for necessary repairs and/or the cost of replacement), a significant amount of their catch can actually be eaten by the time the mammal is freed, more likely dead than alive.

World-wide, it is claimed that around 300,000 of these creatures are accidentally entangled and drowned in commercial fishing nets.

Shark nets

As far as against protective shark netting off popular beaches goes, the arguments for and against drag on, with plenty of heat on both sides.

While proponents point out the effectiveness of shark nets in saving humans from attack (for example, there hasn’t been a fatal shark attack off a Sydney ocean beach since nets were first introduced in 1937, after many attacks over previous years) opponents consistently point out the numbers of “other” marine animals caught and usually killed by the nets.

Again, most of the time, it’s the “emotive” marine mammals including whales, dolphins and porpoises which attract attention from both tabloid media and some of the more alarmist websites.

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