The South African Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN)
SAWDN was formed in 2006 to deal with increased whale entanglements around the South African coastline. Increased fishing, fishing techniques and fishing equipment coupled with increasing whale migrations saw a need for a specialised task team to follow in the footsteps of similar disentanglement networks around the world. SAWDN, a volunteer network, are part of a global initiative to deal with these entanglements.
Spearheaded by the Department of Environmental Affairs – Oceans and Coasts, SAWDN volunteers include members of the Department of Environmental Affairs – Oceans and Coasts, the NSRI, the Police Dive Unit, DAPG (Dolphin Action and Protection Group), the Natal Sharks Board, Marine Environmental groups, Telkom Maritime Radio Services, Aquatic and Marine organisations and various volunteer Animal Rescue organisations around the coast. Information, skills, experience and successful techniques are shared between all of the Whale Disentanglement Networks globally. The goal of these global Disentanglement Networks is to effectively respond to reports of entanglements and to release whales from entanglements.
Fishing companies regularly volunteer their fishing boats and crews to assist SAWDN in disentanglement operations and this cooperation by the fishing community and by fishing companies is greatly appreciated. The fishing industry should follow best practice guidelines which are monitored and regulated by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and by the Department of Environmental Affairs – Oceans and Coasts.