The Working Group on By-catch, Entanglements and Live strandings (BYCELS) is a standing working group established in 2017 directly under the Council. The Working Group provides advice on marine mammal welfare issues related to by-catch, entanglements and live-strandings upon request from Council. Advice should be based on the best available scientific findings, technological developments and traditional knowledge with due consideration to safety requirements for humans.

Terms of Reference govern BYCELS functions. The WG does not meet on a regular basis but meets when called upon by Council and meeting reports can be found here.

BYCELS has developed guidelines for the euthanasia of stranded whales and how to set up a national response network for stranded whales. Recognising the extensive work undertaken by the IWC on entanglement response, including the material on large whale entanglement response efforts available online, BYCELS did not recommend that NAMMCO develop guidelines on disentanglement of whales. The IWC guidelines cover the essential and important information on behaviour, equipment, and safety.

At its last meeting in May 2022, BYCELS concluded that it had finalised the task it had been given so far and agreed that a new meeting would only be scheduled when the Council or members countries ask for new advice within the BYCELS mandate. BYCELS emphasised, however, that animal welfare issues related to by-catch, entanglement and strandings would most probably increase in the future, and that it was therefore important for NAMMCO to have a competent body addressing these questions.

Working Group members:

The members of BYCELS appointed by the member countries are the following:

  • Signar Petersen, Djóralæknastovan, Faroe Islands
  • Ulla Svarrer Wang, Ministry of Fisheries, Faroe Islands
  • Masaana Dorph, Ministry of Fisheries, Hunting and Agriculture, Greenland
  • Amalie Jessen, Ministry of Fisheries, Hunting and Agriculture, Greenland
  • Jóhann Ásmundsson, Directorate of Fisheries, Iceland
  • Guro Gjelsvik, Directorate of Fisheries, Norway
  • Kathrine A. Ryeng, Institue of Marine Reserach

Norway holds the Chair of the BYCELS.

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