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Bycatch risk for toothed whales in global small-scale fisheries

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Andrew Temple, Professor Per Berggren



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Fisheries bycatch poses the single greatest threat to cetacean (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) populations. Despite this, bycatch of cetaceans does not receive proportionate levels of research or management effort. The contribution of small-scale fisheries to cetacean bycatch is generally overlooked because of the extreme data paucity in these fisheries. Here we assess the likely geographic distribution of bycatch risk posed to the odontocetes (toothed whales) at the global scale. We combine species’ occurrence and estimates of fisheries susceptibility for all 72 marine toothed whale species with estimates of small-scale fisheries’ gillnet fishing pressure across 163 marine fishing nations. We show that the bycatch risk from small-scale fisheries is likely greatest in low- and middle-income regions, generally in the tropics and sub-tropics. Our findings highlight a “wicked problem”, that the highest bycatch risks primarily occur in regions with lowest fisheries management efficacy. Further, addressing bycatch in these priority regions is fraught with potentially damaging consequences for the survival of vulnerable human coastal communities. Immediate management and conservation actions are required to prevent species extirpation and extinction through the reduction of small-scale fisheries bycatch. To be successful these actions must carefully balance both species and human needs.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Temple A, Westmerland E, Berggren P

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Fish and Fisheries

Year: 2021

Volume: 22

Issue: 6

Pages: 1155-1159

Print publication date: 01/11/2021

Online publication date: 14/06/2021

Acceptance date: 22/05/2021

Date deposited: 15/06/2021

ISSN (print): 1467-2960

ISSN (electronic): 1467-2979

Publisher: Wiley


DOI: 10.1111/faf.12581


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