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Impact of interactions between common bottlenose dolphins and purse-seiners in the Moroccan Mediterranean region: case study in the Al Hoceima fishing grounds


Abstract

This study examines the effect of common bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus on the purse-seine fishery for small pelagic fishes in the Mediterranean Sea and the economic consequences thereof. The investigation focused on the fleet registered at the port of Al Hoceima, Morocco, and used information collected from on-board observations and a semi-structured questionnaire with fishermen and ship-owners. A total of 121 dolphins were captured as bycatch during 48 fishing trips, with a mortality rate of 0.23 dolphins per fishing trip. In terms of damage to the fishing gear, the number of observed holes varied between 28 and 230 per net per incident. Though some tears were large, most were <35 cm in height. The cost of repairing the holes in the nets caused by these interactions was estimated at US$179.52 per mending event. The level of interaction between common bottlenose dolphins and the purse-seine fishery targeting small pelagic fishes is a challenge for both fishery management and dolphin conservation.