19 May 2008

Preliminary investigation in Porto Cesareo

Tethys has recently conducted a preliminary investigation on cetaceans and coastal fisheries in and around the Marine Protected Area of Porto Cesareo (south-east Italy).

A total of 54 formal interviews to professional coastal fishermen were conducted in fishing ports situated along 65 km of coastline, on both sides of the Porto Cesareo MPA. 93% of the interviewed fishermen reported fishing gear damage and depredation caused by common bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus.

Researchers also did research at sea, making a series of visual surveys within the MPA. They sighted three loggerhead sea turtles Caretta caretta and one swordfish Xiphias gladius, but no cetaceans. Lack of dolphin sightings during this preliminary study suggests that net depredation may be due to occasional incursions of transient bottlenose dolphins, rather than to animals residing in the area year-round.

We plan to continue our work in October when, according to local fishermen, dolphin density may be higher. Our aim is to better understand the real damage caused by dolphins to fishing gear and understand the relationship between damage reported by local fishermen and actual dolphin density.

Silvia Bonizzoni

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