Otters and fish farms in the Sado estuary: ecological and socio-economic basis of a conflict

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Abstract

The degree of conflict between otter conservation and fish farming was assessed at Sado estuary (SW Portugal), using ecological (otter visiting rates to fish farms and consumption of commercial fish) and socio-economic (past and current instruments and policies addressing the conflict and a social impact assessment, including a discourse analysis of relevant stakeholders) parameters. The study concerned 14 fish farms producing Sparus aurata, Dicentrarchus labrax, Solea senegalensis and Solea solea. Results indicate high visiting rates in most fish farms (average: 76%), although in only 29%, species stocked were the most consumed prey. Other marine species and freshwater prey were the basis of otter diet in the remaining fish farms. The conflict is quite consensual among most fish farmers, and the results indicate that the perceived conflict by fish farmers has an ecological basis, although there are large gaps between effective and perceived predation. No specific instruments exist in Portugal to address the conflict, but some not specifically targeted can have an effect (e.g. species protection legislation and aquaculture licensing), although with limitations to effectively contribute to its mitigation (e.g. lack of enforcement and supervision). Formulating and assessing solutions is the following step, using a participatory approach to the development and evaluation of mitigation/compensation strategies, capable of providing an effective reconciliation of the conflict.
Original languageUnknown
Pages (from-to)51-62
JournalHydrobiologia
Volume587
Issue numberNA
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007

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