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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 626:197-208 (2019)  -  DOI:

Pingers reduce the activity of Burmeister’s porpoise around small-scale gillnet vessels

Thomas A. Clay1,2, Joanna Alfaro-Shigueto2,3,4, Brendan J. Godley2, Nick Tregenza5, Jeffrey C. Mangel2,3,*

1School of Environmental Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 3GP, UK
2Centre for Ecology and Conservation, University of Exeter, Penryn, Cornwall TR10 9EZ, UK
3ProDelphinus, Jose Galvez 780-E, Miraflores, Lima 15074, Peru
4Facultad de Biologia Marina, Universidad Cientifica del Sur, Panamericana Sur Km 19, Villa, Lima 15067, Peru
5Chelonia Limited, The Barkhouse, North Cliff, Mousehole, Cornwall TR19 6PH, UK
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Incidental mortality (bycatch) in gillnet fisheries is a major threat to many cetacean populations. Acoustic alarms or pingers are a widely adopted management tool used to deter dolphins and porpoises from nets; however, their efficacy is largely species- and fishery-dependent. As such, results from experimental trials may have limited transferability to poorly studied species or fisheries. Here, we investigated the effect of pingers on the behaviour of Burmeister’s porpoise Phocoena spinipinnis in the vicinity of the Peruvian small-scale driftnet fleet. Over a 4 yr period (2009-2012), 116 control (without pingers) and 94 experimental (with pingers) fishing sets were observed, and porpoise acoustic activity around nets was recorded using passive acoustic loggers (C-PODs). We modelled variation in detection rates as a function of pinger use and habitat covariates, and found that in regions of preferred habitat associated with cooler (17-18°C), shallow waters (within the 100 m isobath), the use of pingers lead to an 86% reduction in porpoise activity around nets. Our results suggest that pingers are likely to be particularly effective at deterring Burmeister’s porpoises from fishing nets, and given the vast capacity of this and other fleets in the region, may substantially reduce mortality. This study also emphasizes the potential of passive acoustic monitoring to determine the effectiveness of bycatch mitigation measures, both for species for which visual observations are scarce, and also in regions where gathering statistically meaningful bycatch rates is logistically challenging.

KEY WORDS: By-catch mitigation · Artisanal fisheries · Behavioural avoidance · Acoustic alarm · Passive acoustic monitoring · Marine mammal · Phocoena spinipinnis · C-POD · Peru

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Cite this article as: Clay TA, Alfaro-Shigueto J, Godley BJ, Tregenza N, Mangel JC (2019) Pingers reduce the activity of Burmeister’s porpoise around small-scale gillnet vessels. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 626:197-208.

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