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Global Whale Entanglement Response Network (GWERN)
by International Whaling Commission (Intergovernmental organization)
Research has suggested that over 300,000 whales and dolphins die each year from entanglement in fishing gear and marine debris. Entanglement is arguably the single most significant threat to cetacean welfare, and an obstacle to the recovery of some endangered whale populations.

The IWC is working with the Center for Coastal Studies and a group of international experts to build a global network of professionally trained and equipped entanglement responders. The programme began in autumn 2011 and since then it has reached nearly 1000 scientists, conservationists and government representatives from over 40 countries.

In its future work, the GWERN will continue the IWC's work to improve welfare and survivorship for entangled cetaceans, whilst expanding work towards the prevention of mortality and suffering caused by entanglement and bycatch. It will help to collect better data to understand the issue, through capacity building and establishment of an IWC database on entanglement. This work will contribute to the implementation of the IWC's Welfare Action Plan, whilst also taking forward recommendations of its Scientific and Conservation Committees.

The GWERN will continue to engage and seek to collaborate with other relevant organisations such as the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP); Permanent Commission for the South Pacific (CPPS) and the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI).
Progress reports
By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution
Type of commitment
  • Other (please specify): Abandoned, Lost and Otherwise Discarded Fishing Gear
By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans
Type of commitment
By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics
Type of commitment
  • Reduction and elimination fishing practices and gear that destroy/degrade marine habitat
  • Reduction of fisheries by-catch and product waste/losses
By 2030, increase the economic benefits to Small Island developing States and least developed countries from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism
Type of commitment
  • Economic benefits from sustainable fisheries
Increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology, taking into account the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology, in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular small island developing States and least developed countries
Type of commitment
  • Training and professional development
Provide access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets
Type of commitment
  • Transfer of fishing technology
  • Community empowerment for fisheries management
June 2017
Capacity building training in Chile
May 2018
Prototype functional entanglement database
September 2017
Capacity building training in Norway
September 2017
Capacity building training in Colombia
Other, please specify
Financial support from IWC Contracting Governments and Government organisations; Intergovernmental Organisations and Non-Governmental Organisations
In-kind contribution
In kind contribution by a range of stakeholders, including technical support and assistance from members of the Expert Advisory Panel on Entanglement Response
Staff / Technical expertise
Staff and technical support from the IWC Secretariat and Center for Coastal Studies
Basic information
Time-frame: October 2011 - Ongoing
Center for Coastal Studies
Ocean Basins
  • Global
Beneficiary countries
Other beneficaries
Fishing Communities; Scientists; Conservationists; Veterinarians; Naval Personnel and others
Contact information
Sarah Smith, Head of Programme Development, sarah.smith@iwc.int, +44 (0)1223 232876
Cambridge, UK
Other SDGs
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