Acoustic alarms reduce bycatch of harbour porpoises in Danish North Sea gillnet fisheries

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Abstract

A double-blind experiment in the Danish gillnet fishery for cod (Gadus morhua) demonstrated that pingers can substantially reduce bycatch of harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena). Fourteen vessels fished a total of 168 days in the North Sea in 1997. In the wreck fishery the total effort was 1052 nets with active pingers, 1056 nets with dummy pingers and 74 nets without pingers. Eight porpoises were caught, all in nets with dummy pingers. In the flat bottom/stony ground fishery the total effort was 5596 nets with active pingers, 5210 nets with dummy pingers and 2973 nets without pingers. Sixteen porpoises were caught, including 1 animal in a net with active pingers, 6 in nets with dummy pingers and 9 in nets without pingers. The difference in bycatch between nets with active pingers and nets with inactive or no pingers was highly significant (p < 0.007) for both the wreck fishery and the flat bottom/stony ground fishery. We conclude that the direct effects of the pinger signals on the porpoises caused the reduction in bycatch, which means that the results can be generalized to other situations where harbour porpoises are taken in gillnets. Generalized linear modelling demonstrated that cod cpue was not affected negatively by pingers. It was furthermore estimated that the stony ground fishery had significantly lower (p < 0.001) cpue values (a factor 0.47) compared to the wreck fishery. The results of this experiment led to the introduction of pingers in Danish gillnet fisheries in 2001 and were also part of the basis for EU Council Regulation 812/2004 introducing EU-wide use of pingers
Original languageEnglish
JournalFisheries Research
Volume153
Pages (from-to)108-112
ISSN0165-7836
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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