Management of fisheries in harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) marine protected areas

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesis

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The harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) is the focus of a range of conservation efforts and policies aiming at reducing bycatch of the species in gillnet fisheries. In European waters, the harbour porpoise is protected within the Habitats Directive (Annexes II and IV), implying that the population has to be
maintained at a favourable conservation status and the deliberate actions of killing and disturbance and habitat deterioration shall be prohibited in accordance with the directive’s aims. A spatial network, Natura2000, will further protect all Annex II species. According to Natura2000, Member States are obliged to nominate candidate protected areas in their waters to the EU Commission and within six years establish legislation to implement them as special areas of conservation and prepare management plans. Up to this point in time, however, no such management plans exist. This Ph.D. thesis focuses on research methods and management tools, which can contribute to a better
scientific understanding in the preparation of fisheries management plans for Natura2000 sites designated for harbour porpoises. Firstly, it investigates the potential use of CCTV cameras to document bycatch of marine mammals. Here
it is shown that Remote Electronic Monitoring (REM) systems installed on commercial fishing vessels can provide video footage, time and position of all net hauls and record bycatches of marine mammals. Comparisons between the visual analysis of the REM data and fishers logbooks showed that the REM
system gave more reliable results since fishers did not, in many instances, observe the bycatch while working on the deck because it dropped out of the net before coming on board. Furthermore, REM provided high percentage coverage at low cost, compared to on-board observers. Secondly, the suitability of using high-resolution spatial and temporal data on porpoise density and
fishing effort data from the Danish Skagerrak Sea as a method to predict harbour porpoise bycatches was examined. The results showed that a simple relation between the two could predict bycatch and that the final model can thus be used as a tool to identify areas of porpoise bycatch risk and thereby support the management of both fisheries and harbour porpoises in accordance with the Habitats Directive. Thirdly, the behaviour of porpoises in relation to two different pinger types with different acoustic properties was studied at three different locations. The results showed that at one location, the
AQUAmark100 pinger had a significant effect on porpoise echolocation behaviour at 0 and 200 m distances, whereas another trial showed a significant reduction in such behaviour for up to 400 m. In none of the studies of the AQUA100 did the behaviour reveal any signs of habituation. Studies of the
AQUAmark300, however, revealed clear habituation effects. Fourthly and finally, the thesis describes the governance process and analyses its mechanisms and
conflicts surrounding ongoing fisheries management planning with a focus on two Natura2000 sites in the Danish part of the Skagerrak Sea designated to protect harbour porpoises
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCharlottenlund
PublisherNational Institute of Aquatic Resources, Technical University of Denmark
Number of pages115
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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