ESR 22:11-22 (2013)  -  DOI:

Perspectives of fishers on turtle bycatch and conservation strategies in a small-scale inland commercial fyke net fishery

Vivian M. Nguyen1,*, Sarah M. Larocque1,2, Lauren J. Stoot1,2, Nicholas A. Cairns1,2, Gabriel Blouin-Demers2, Steven J. Cooke1

1Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology Laboratory, Department of Biology, Carleton University, 1125 Colonel By Dr., Ottawa ON K1S 5B6, Canada
2Herpetology Laboratory, Department of Biology, University of Ottawa, 30 Marie Curie, Ottawa ON K1N 6N5, Canada

ABSTRACT: We compiled information on the perspectives of fishers on turtle bycatch, turtle conservation, and turtle bycatch reduction strategies (BRSs). Our research efforts focused on a small-scale inland fyke net commercial fishery in Ontario, Canada, where turtle bycatch has been identified as a potential conservation concern. We conducted 18 complete and 3 partial telephone interviews with fishers (41% participation rate). Rates of turtle encounters varied between fishing behaviours (e.g. preferred depth of sets, habitat), and between water bodies, regions, and fishing seasons, resulting in varying perspectives with respect to turtle bycatch. There was a general lack of understanding as to the reasons why turtles are protected. None of the respondents recognized turtle bycatch as a conservation issue. They felt that threats to turtle populations were external to the fishery, resulting in negative feedback regarding various BRSs. Other barriers to adopting BRSs were costs (e.g. of reduced fishing opportunities, changes to gear, time and effort) and apprehension of potential changes to the fishery. Few fishers would voluntarily modify their gear; therefore, incentives (e.g. compensation, increased quota) may be needed to convince fishers to adopt mitigation strategies. Some fishers had already adopted their own BRS for turtles (e.g. moving nets upon encounter of turtles, using air spaces to improve turtle survival). Therefore, sharing fisher-driven, grass roots success stories with other fishers could promote support for changes in fishing practices. Greater awareness about the impacts of turtle mortalities may help build understanding and support for turtle conservation initiatives.

KEY WORDS: Turtle bycatch · Social science · Commercial fishing · Telephone interviews · Attitudes of fishers · Species at risk · Human dimension · Risk perception

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Cite this article as: Nguyen VM, Larocque SM, Stoot LJ, Cairns NA, Blouin-Demers G, Cooke SJ (2013) Perspectives of fishers on turtle bycatch and conservation strategies in a small-scale inland commercial fyke net fishery. Endang Species Res 22:11-22.

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