Mitigating Bycatch in Fisheries
The incidental capture, or bycatch, of non-target wildlife in fisheries is a global problem. In almost all the aquatic environments in which cetaceans live, some form of recreational and commercial fishing activity occurs. The overlap of fishing efforts and cetacean communities often results in negative outcomes for both the fishers and the cetaceans involved.
Demersal trawl fishing for crustaceans, cephalopods and fish, for example, is an unselective fishing method that is destructive to benthic environments and results in large quantities of bycatch. Trawl fishing, along with gill-netting and purse-seining fisheries, cause the largest proportion of fisheries-related cetacean mortalities worldwide. Several dolphin populations, and indeed species, are now at risk of extinction having been subject to the impacts of gill-netting and trawl fisheries.
This research program was initially funded by WADoF, NBPFA and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (2008-2010), and continues with funding from the Australian Marine Mammal Centre (2011-2012).
Fig.1: Spatial density of fishing effort in the PFTIMF based on logbook trawls (mid-2003 and August 2009). Logbook and observer reported dolphin capture events are overlayed.