An image from the homepage of the SEASWAP website, designed by Kyle Kosma. The Southeast Alaska Sperm Whale Avoidance Project is trying to reduce the number of interactions between longline fishing vessels and sperm whales, which have been stealing black cod off the lines.

Downloadable audio.

Linda Behnken, the Executive Director of the Alaska Longline Fisherman’s Association was joined by Tori O’Connell, the Research Director of the Sitka Sound Science Center, to provide an update on SEASWAP (The Southeast Alaska Sperm Whale Avoidance Project).

As O’Connell explains, the project just secured $311,000 in funding from NOAA’s Saltonstall-Kennedy Grant Program to continue research on a sperm whale tagging project this fall. The avoidance network will tag whales in the Chatham Strait black cod fishery and give fisherman devices to communicate where the whales are located.

SEASWAP was founded in 2003 to address the issue of sperm whale depredation. In the late 1990s, the whales learned to take sablefish off commercial fishing gear in the Gulf of Alaska at great cost to fisherman. SEASWAP is a collaboration between commercial fisherman, scientists, and fisheries managers. To learn more, visit their website.