Evaluation of harbour porpoise behaviour in relation to acoustic alarms (pingers) (38670)

Project Details


The project included four sub-projects that were all related to development of methods for mitigation of harbour porpoise by-catch.

The first sub-project investigated the effective deterrent range for a commercial pinger and whether the range changed over time (habituation). This is important to know in order to be able to evaluate the effects if pingers are to be used in marine protected areas like the Natura 2000 areas. By deploying automated porpoise click loggers (C-PODs) in a grid around an active pinger, the effective range of the pinger was assessed. The set-up was deployed both in Denmark and in Scotland to also investigate possible regional differences in porpoise reactions to pingers.

The second sub-project tested the alerting-hypothesis, i.e. whether it was possible to induce porpoises in the wild to use their biosonar against a target by having the target emit artificial porpoise click trains (alerting signals). Alerting signals have a number of advantages over traditional pinger signals, including that they will not lead to exclusion of porpoises from important habitats, that the risk of habituation is smaller because the porpoises will be able to learn from their experience with the alerting pingers, and that noise pollution will be considerably smaller because the sound level of alerting pingers is much lower than for traditional pingers.

The third sub-project tested if pingers emitting alerting-signals could reduce by-catch of harbour porpoises in the commercial gillnet fishery. Alerting pingers were deployed on bottom-set gillnets in a fishery with a high by-catch rates, in a double-blind experiment. The fourth sub-project investigated the behaviour of free ranging harbour porpoises in relation to a gillnet. This included land-based tracking by theodolite of porpoises approaching a bottom-set gillnet to determine detection distances and avoidance behaviour.

The project was coordinated by DTU Aqua and funded by the Danish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries and the European Fisheries Fund (EFF).

Research area: Ecosystem based Marine Management
Research area: Observation Technology
Effective start/end date01/01/200931/12/2011

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