Galicia (NW Spain) is an important fishing region with a high potential for cetacean-fishery interactions. Cetacean depredation on catch and damage to fishing gear can potentially lead to substantial economic loss for fishers, while cetacean bycatch raises conservation concerns. With the aim of gathering information on the types and scale of interactions and of suggesting possible management strategies, we conducted face-to-face interviews with fishers in local fishing harbours, in particular to identify specific problematic interactions and to quantify the level of economic loss and bycatch rates associated with these interactions. We found that cetacean-fishery interactions are frequent, although damage to catch and fishing gear by cetaceans was mostly reported as small. Nevertheless, substantial economic loss can result from common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) damaging coastal gillnets and from short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) scattering fish in purse-seine fisheries. Cetacean bycatch mortality was reported to be highest for trawls and set gillnets, and probably exceeds sustainable levels for local common and bottlenose dolphin populations. Although interview data may be biased due to the perceptions of interviewees, and therefore should be interpreted with care, the methodology allowed us to cover multiple sites and fisheries within a reasonable time frame. Minimizing cetacean-fishery interactions requires the implementation of case-specific management strategies with the active participation of fishers. For set gillnet and purse-seine fisheries, the use of acoustic deterrent devices (pingers) may prevent cetaceans from approaching and getting trapped in the nets. For trawl fisheries, where bycatch appears to be particularly high at night in water depths of 100-300 m, possible solutions include the implementation of time/area closures and the relocation of some fishing effort to deeper waters.
- cetacean-fishery interactions
- dolphin bycatch
- fisher participation
- fishers' opinions
- interview survey