Project number: 2021-091
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $750,000.00
Principal Investigator: Jason How
Organisation: Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) Hillarys
Project start/end date: 31 Mar 2022 - 31 Mar 2025


Whale entanglement in fishing gear has posed a major threat to the Western Rock Lobster (WRL) industry over the last decade. Adverse media attention has to date been avoided, but 2020 saw the first entangled whale appear dead on a WA beach entangled with gear from the state's fisheries. Similarly, several "public" rescues were undertaken of entangled whales which is extremely dangerous. Attempts to disentangle whales has led to the death of responders previously in both Canada and New Zealand. Such events have the capacity to provide a significant threat to the activities of the WRL industry through erosion of their social license.
A program to direct entanglement mitigation research over the next four years will increase the strategic focus of research and increase the efficiency of the application and granting process, thus leading to a more rapid implementation of outcomes into the management of the fishery. Critically, broad dissemination of the outcomes of these project will assist in creating a more resilient social license. This will be important when adverse media attention is focused on the industry as the result of either the death of a whale or responder attempting to disentangle the whale.


1. Understand the inter-annual shifts in the humpback whale migration along the WA coast
2. Determine the dynamics and WRL gear involved in humpback whale entanglements
3. Determine the population size of the Western Australian (Stock D) humpback whale population.
4. Investigate novel mitigation measures to minimise entanglements in WRL gear.
5. Support WRL gear disentanglement operators through provision of equipment and new technologies.

Related research


WRL Communication, Education and Engagement Program

1. Strengthen industry members' engagement: Increase the full participation by internal stakeholders in Council activities, to best enable the Council to represent the industry to government and other stakeholders. This includes industry engagement and communication of WRL IPA activities and R&D...
Western Rock Lobster Council Inc (WRLC)