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Marine biodiversity conservation and bycatch mitigation
© Julia Maturrano / WWF-Perú

Peruvian sea is recognized for its great productivity. Thanks to the cold and warm currents, we can enjoy a great diversity of species. The biodiversity of fish, mollusks, and crustaceans together with dolphins, turtles, and birds make our sea unique worldwide.

What is the issue? 

The main threat faced by Peruvian marine megafauna (birds, turtles, sharks and cetaceans) is bycatch, which is when non-target species are caught. Peru is an important focal point for the eastern Pacific populations, this threat has major impacts on the Burmeister’s porpoise and leatherback sea turtle. Besides this problem, which causes the mortality of the species, is the incorrect manipulation in the attempt to free them from fishing gear. On the other hand, plastic waste in the sea is a huge threat to biodiversity, and ghost gear(lost, discarded, or abandoned fishing gear) are its most deadly version. The lack of articulation between government entities and civil society, also, hinders the conservation efforts of these marine species that contribute to the balance of the marine ecosystem.

What is WWF doing?

WWF seeks to reduce the bycatch of marine fauna, minimize its mortality and fight ghost fishing, especially for turtles, whales and dolphins, as well as sharks and rays.

How do we do this?

WWF Peru, in collaboration with IMARPE, has been experimenting with innovative technological devices in different Peruvian fishing communities to reduce the interaction and mortality of turtles and marine cetaceans with fishing gear. Also, guidelines on good practices to handle and release sea turtles incidentally caught by artisanal fisheries have been developed and delivered. In addition, several communication tools and good practices are being  built with companies in the industrial fishing sector for the sustainable management of marine megafauna. We are working on the prevention of ghost fishing with fishing communities, such as Los Órganos, in the collection of nets at the end of their useful life, and with our ally Bureo to identify opportunities for their local recycling, promoting a circular economy.

Who do we work with?

We develop actions with key entities within the fishing and conservation sector, such as fishing communities (associations, unions), NGOs (ACOREMA, ProDelphinus, SPDA), private entities (SNP, CFG-Copeinca), and at the state level (MINAGRI, MINAM, PRODUCE, SERFOR and IMARPE in the framework of marine fauna conservation).

© WWF - Perú
On governance

1. In 2019, MINAGRI approved the National Plan of Sea turtle’s conservation in Peru. WWF supported its development through meetings with experts, decentralized national workshops, web page development, and the distribution of material, among others.

2. A National Network of Instructors for the Release and Handling of Sea Turtles (RED SOS) has been promoted. With their support, guidelines have been drawn up to handle and release sea turtles in artisanal fisheries, training 888 fishers from 13 different fishing communities in 6 coastal regions.

3. Experiments to reduce the bycatch of marine megafauna were carried out with LED lights in 517 fishing sets and with acoustic devices (pingers) in 194 sets, achieving positive results with LED lights for sea turtles, cetaceans, and seabirds in the places used.
The first Global Guidelines for the Safe Handling and Release of Small Cetaceans Incidentally Caught in Fishing Gear was published and developed with the contribution of WWF, CMS and, revised by the IWC and FAO.
In 2019, our project with Bureo “REDCICLA” won the Antonio Brack Egg National Enviromental Award, in the Peru Limpio category, mention “Solid waste management”, which prevented 1000 kilos of nets at the end of their useful life from reaching the sea.  


Following steps

1. In collaboration with IMARPE, we seek to expand the experiments with mitigation devices to validate them at a national level with the various fisheries that have bycatch of turtle, whale, and dolphin species.
2. WF will follow up the regulations of the sea turtle handling and release guidelines that are being evaluated by the competent government entities (MINAM, PRODUCE and SERFOR).