Can modelling the drift of bycaught dolphin stranded carcasses help identify involved fisheries? An exploratory study

La modélisation de la dérive des carcasses échouées de dauphins capturés accidentellement peut-elle aider à identifier les pêcheries impliquées ? Une étude exploratoire

Peltier, Hélène ; Authier, Matthieu ; Dabin, Willy ; Dars, Cécile ; Demaret, Fabien ; Doremus, Ghislain ; Canneyt, Olivier Van ; Laran, Sophie ; Mendez-Fernandez, Paula ; Spitz, Jérôme ; Daniel, Pierre ; Ridoux, Vincent

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<p align=justify>Between the 1st of February and the March 31, 2017, 793 stranded cetaceans were found along the French Atlantic coasts. Common dolphins made up 84% of these strandings, and most of these presented evidence of death in fishing gear. The aim of this work is to test an approach that could help identify the fisheries potentially involved in a given stranding event. To do this we examined how the distributions of likely areas of mortality of bycaught dolphins, inferred from carcass drift modelling, coincide with fishing effort statistics of various fleets, generated from the Vessel Monitoring System, in the area over the same dates. Using reverse drift modelling, two main mortality areas were identified. A total of 3690 common dolphins (IC95% [2230; 6900]) were estimated to have died in fishing gear within the Bay of Biscay during this unusual stranding event. There was a positive correlation between the origin of stranded bycaught dolphins and the fishing effort distribution of French midwater pair trawlers, Spanish otter bottom trawlers and French Danish seiners. This co-occurrence highlights a risk and identifies fisheries that require further investigation (through observers or e-monitoring). These fisheries differed in their fishing gear, but two characteristics appear to be shared: they targeted predatory fishes (sea bass and hake) in winter and used high vertical opening gear.</p>
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