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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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In northern Norway, killer whales often forage near herring fisheries during the winter, as the fisheries may present beneficial foraging opportunities for them. Photo: Evert Mul

Mul E, Blanchet MA, McClintock BT, Grecian WJ, Biuw M, Rikardsen A


Killer whales are attracted to herring fishing vessels


Whales and fisheries often target the same species of fish, which may lead to entanglements, reduced fishery catches or other negative consequences. However, fisheries may also present beneficial foraging opportunities, which can attract whales. In northern Norway, large numbers of killer whales are attracted to overwintering aggregations of herring. Here, they are often observed foraging near purse-seine fisheries. We use biotelemetry and fisheries data to study the extent of killer whale attraction to fishing activity. Based on a 3-state hidden Markov model, killer whale movement in our study was biased towards fishing activity 44% of the time, primarily within a distance of up to 20 km. This information can inform fishery management to consider potential consequences for fishers and whales.


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