What is bycatch?

Fishermen sometimes catch and discard animals they do not want, cannot sell, or are not allowed to keep. This is collectively known as “bycatch.” Bycatch can be fish, but also includes other animals such as dolphins, whales, sea turtles, and seabirds that become hooked or entangled in fishing gear.

For NOAA Fisheries, bycatch refers to“discarded catch of marine species and unobserved mortality due to a direct encounter with fishing vessels and gear.” These unintentionally caught animals often suffer injuries or die.

NOAA Fisheries is committed to continuing to reduce and minimize bycatch now and into the future. Our investment in bycatch reduction is spread across multiple program areas and laws including the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, and Endangered Species Act.