United Nations

June 2022 - You are accessing an old version of our website. The Ocean Voluntary Commitments have been migrated here: https://sdgs.un.org/partnerships/action-networks/ocean-commitments

You will be redirected to the new Voluntary Commitments register in 10 seconds.

Bycatch Mitigation Initiative
by International Whaling Commission (Intergovernmental organization)
Bycatch is a global and growing problem, affecting all of the worlds seas and oceans, many large rivers and many marine mammals. It is estimated that over 300,000 cetaceans die each year as a result of entanglement in fishing gear. Bycatch is a significant welfare concern and is a key contributing factor in the ongoing decline of several cetacean populations. At its 66th meeting in 2016, the Commission recognised the need for a global concerted effort to address bycatch and agreed to the development of a Bycatch Mitigation Initiative supported by an Expert Panel and a Coordinator.

The Bycatch Mitigation Initiative seeks to help governments to address issues relating to bycatch and in particular its mitigation. It will do this by inter alia:

(1) Maintenance of an up-to-date compilation of research related to bycatch mitigation measures;
(2) Evaluation of the effectiveness and practical implementation of mitigation measures, including the application of monitoring schemes;
(3) Coordination with the IWC Scientific Committee to ensure that new relevant information is considered and evaluated each year;
(4) Provision of advice to governments on request;
(5) Liaison and exchange of information with other inter-governmental fisheries bodies (e.g. COFI, FAO Regional Fishery Bodies, ICES)
(6) Liaison with other IGOs (e.g. CMS and its Regional Agreements and UNEP Regional Seas Programmes and their associated treaties) and international NGOs with bycatch initiatives to ensure complementarity of efforts and regular exchange of information and expertise.

The structure of the Bycatch Mitigation Initiative will include:

A Standing Working Group, responsible for the strategic development of the Bycatch Mitigation Initiative, delivering its aims, overseeing its work programme and the provision of relevant advice to the IWC and its subgroups;

An Expert Panel, which will provide scientific and technical advice in support of the BMIs aims; and

A Coordinator, within the secretariat of IWC who will implement the programme of work including through research, outreach and facilitation of responses to IWC contracting governments and others seeking advice and support.
Progress reports
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
  • Research capacity development
  • Data access and sharing
  • Training and professional development
Provide access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets
Type of commitment
  • Transfer of fishing technology
December 2017
Development of detailed work programme
Other, please specify
Financial support from IWC Contracting Governments and other sources
In-kind contribution
In-kind contribution by IWC Contracting Governments and Accredited observers and other stakeholders
Staff / Technical expertise
Staff and technical support from the IWC Secretariat
Basic information
Time-frame: October 2016 - 2020
IWC Contracting Member countries
Ocean Basins
  • Global
Beneficiary countries
Other beneficaries
Fishing communities
Contact information
Sarah Smith, Head of Programme Development, sarah.smith@iwc.int, +44 (0)1223 232876
Cambridge, UK
Other SDGs
United Nations