Bycatch of marine mammals in U.S. and global fisheries.
Fisheries bycatch poses a significant threat to many populations of marine mammals, but there are few published estimates of the magnitude of these catches. We estimated marine mammal bycatch in U.S. fisheries from 1990 to 1999 with data taken from the stock assessment reports required by the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act. The mean annual bycatch of marine mammals during this period was 6215 +/- 448 (SE). Bycatch of cetaceans and pinnipeds occurred in similar numbers. Most cetacean (84%) and pinniped (98%) bycatch occurred in gill-net fisheries. Marine mammal bycatch declined significantly over the decade, primarily because of a reduction in the bycatch of cetaceans. Total marine mammal bycatch was significantly lower after the implementation of take reduction measures in the latter half of the decade. We derived a crude first estimate of marine mammal bycatch in the world's fisheries by expanding U.S. bycatch with data on fleet composition from the Food and Agriculture Organization. The global bycatch of marine mammals is in the hundreds of thousands. Bycatch is likely to have significant demographic effects on many populations of marine mammals. Better data are urgently needed to fully understand the impact of these interactions.
Read, AJ; Drinker, P; Northridge, S
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