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Keywords:

  • cetacean–fisheries interactions;
  • depredation;
  • bycatch;
  • fisheries;
  • Atlantic Ocean;
  • Azores

Abstract

  • 1.
    Interactions between cetaceans and fishing activity in the Archipelago of the Azores were examined using information contained in grey literature and previously unpublished data collected by observer programmes and research projects from 1998 to 2006. Together with a brief description of the economics, gear, fishing effort, and past and ongoing monitoring projects, levels of cetacean bycatch and interference were reported for each major fishery.
  • 2.
    Cetaceans were present in 7% (n = 973) and interfered in 3% (n = 452) of the fishing events monitored by observers aboard tuna-fishing vessels. Interference resulted in a significantly higher proportion of events with zero catches but it was also associated with higher tuna catches.
  • 3.
    There was a decreasing trend in the proportion of tuna-fishing events with cetacean presence or interference throughout this study, as well as a reduction in the estimates of dolphins captured annually by the whole fleet.
  • 4.
    Observers reported cetacean depredation in 16% of the sets for demersal species and in 2% of the sets for swordfish. Cetacean presence and depredation were associated with higher overall catches and higher catches per unit effort in demersal fisheries. Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) were responsible for most depredation events in demersal fisheries, whereas in the swordfish fishery, depredation was associated with the presence of killer whales (Orcinus orca). There were no reports of cetacean bycatch in these fisheries. There were also no reports of cetaceans interacting in the experimental deep-sea fisheries that were examined.
  • 5.
    Available data suggests that levels of interaction between cetaceans and Azorean fisheries are generally low and that the economic impact of cetacean interference is probably small. However, for several traditional fisheries there are no accurate data to determine levels of cetacean interaction. We recommend that existing observer programmes be expanded to increase observer coverage of the demersal and swordfish fisheries and allow monitoring of other existing and emerging fisheries. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.