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Hudson Bay, Canada

Robards M.D.,West Marine | Reeves R.R.,Okapi Wildlife Associates
Biological Conservation

The killing and consumption of marine mammals fuels tense global struggles between advocates of sustainable use and advocates of complete protection for these animals. However, reporting on the extent and character of marine mammal consumption by people is uneven and often anecdotal. We developed a consistent approach to summarize information from approximately 900 sources. It is now clear that human consumption of marine mammals is geographically widespread, taxonomically diverse, and often of uncertain sustainability. Since 1990, people in at least 114 countries have consumed one or more of at least 87 marine mammal species. Although changing social, ecological, or political circumstances are leading to reduced killing and consumption of marine mammals in some regions, in other regions the prevailing socio-economic conditions and new technologies are leading to increased killing and consumption, particularly of small cetaceans. Consumption of marine mammals is considered a significant aspect of food security and cultural well being in many regions, and provides some economic (including cash) benefits to people in at least 54 countries. Our review highlights an escalation in utilization of small cetaceans caught in conjunction with fishing activities since 1970, a form of fishing-up-the-food-chain. Where consumption relates to food security and poverty, we found evidence of deliberate killing of animals caught both deliberately and accidentally in fishing gear. Constraints on government agencies responsible for implementing regulations, often due to the geographic remoteness of catches, mean that greater understanding is needed of the motivations that underlie consumption of marine mammals so that more effective conservation measures can be designed and implemented. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Heide-Jorgensen M.P.,Greenland Institute of Natural Resources | Hansen R.G.,Greenland Institute of Natural Resources | Westdal K.,Oceans North Canada | Reeves R.R.,Okapi Wildlife Associates | Mosbech A.,University of Aarhus
Biological Conservation

There is great interest in exploring and exploiting hydrocarbon resources in the Arctic, and one of the main methods of locating and assessing such resources is seismic survey. Marine seismic surveys involve the use of airguns that introduce high-energy noise to the Arctic's largely pristine underwater acoustic environment. Narwhals may be particularly sensitive to this noise but so far no studies have addressed the question of direct effects of high-energy airgun pulses on these animals. We are concerned about the possibility that three large recent ice entrapments were causally linked to seismic survey activities. On these occasions narwhals remained in coastal summering areas until well into the fall and early winter season, delaying their annual offshore migration and becoming lethally entrapped by rapidly forming fast ice. About 1000 narwhals died in an ice entrapment in Canada in 2008 and about 100 in two entrapments in Northwest Greenland in 2009-10. We conclude that studies of the direct effects of seismic surveys on narwhals are urgently needed and should ideally precede further seismic surveys in narwhal habitats. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Bearzi G.,Tethys Research Institute | Reeves R.R.,Okapi Wildlife Associates | Remonato E.,Tethys Research Institute | Pierantonio N.,Tethys Research Institute | Airoldi S.,Tethys Research Institute
Mammalian Biology

The ecology and status of Risso's dolphins Grampus griseus worldwide are poorly known. In the Mediterranean Sea, modern field studies of cetaceans only began in the late 1980s and this has resulted in rapid advances in knowledge of some species, but not Risso's dolphin. This paper reviews available information on the distribution and ecology of Risso's dolphins in the Mediterranean and identifies factors that may negatively affect them in this region. Risso's dolphins occur in continental slope waters throughout the Mediterranean basin and around many of the region's offshore islands and archipelagos. No synoptic estimate of abundance is available for the Mediterranean region, but densities and overall numbers are low in comparison to some other small odontocetes. Diet consists primarily of cephalopods, with a clear preference for mesopelagic squid. The principal known threat to populations in the Mediterranean is entanglement in pelagic drift gillnets. Other potential problems for Risso's dolphins in the Mediterranean include noise disturbance and ingestion of plastic debris. Conservation actions to mitigate the risk of entanglement in fishing gear are likely to benefit Risso's dolphins; specifically, the existing driftnet ban in EU waters should be strictly enforced and extended to the high seas and to waters under non-EU State jurisdiction. More and better data are needed on abundance, distribution, movements, population dynamics and trends in Risso's dolphin populations, and better information on threats (e.g. bycatch in fishing gear) is needed to inform conservation efforts. © 2010 Deutsche Gesellschaft für S̈ugetierkunde. Source

Reeves R.,Okapi Wildlife Associates | Sheffield G.,University of Alaska Fairbanks | Moore M.,Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Marine Policy

The objective of this paper was to investigate and illustrate how insights gained from experience managing human activities in order to protect North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) along the heavily industrialized east coast of North America might be applied in the Arctic, where bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) face some of the same risks as right whales. The reduced extent and thickness of sea ice and the resultant longer open-water season have major, complex implications for the Arctic marine ecosystem. Increased maritime ship traffic and commercial fishing in the Arctic are bound to affect bowheads and Native (indigenous) hunting communities who depend on whales for subsistence and cultural identity. Bowheads and right whales were greatly depleted by commercial whaling in the 19th and early 20th centuries. While the Western Arctic bowhead population has been recovering steadily in recent decades, North Atlantic right whales remain highly endangered because of persistent lethal and sublethal vessel strikes and frequent entanglement in commercial fishing gear. Entanglement can be transitory or persistent, with debilitation lasting for months before the animal finally succumbs. Vessel strike and fishing gear trauma has been documented in bowheads, but at a much lower rate than in right whales. Initiatives intended to mitigate the impacts of ship traffic on North Atlantic right whales have included speed limits and routing changes. Those meant to reduce the incidence and severity of entanglements include the modification of gear design and gear deployment practices. Management measures need to be considered in advance in the Arctic in order to minimize the risks to bowhead whales as shipping and industrial fishing expand in the Arctic with ice retreat. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Hooker S.K.,University of St. Andrews | Hooker S.K.,University of La Rochelle | Canadas A.,Marine Research Center Research and Conservation | Hyrenbach K.D.,Hawaii Pacific University | And 3 more authors.
Endangered Species Research

The design of ecological networks of marine protected areas (MPAs) is generally based on the identification of areas of high abundance for species of conservation concern or focal biodiversity targets. We discuss the applicability of this approach to marine top predators and contend that the design of comprehensive and effective MPA networks requires the following 7 principles: (1) the use of wildlife-habitat modelling and spatial mapping approaches to develop testable model predictions of species distribution and abundance; (2) the incorporation of life-history and behavioural data into the development of these predictive habitat models; (3) the explicit assessment of threats in the design and monitoring process for single- or multi-species MPAs; (4) the serious consideration of dynamic MPA designs to encompass species which use well-defined but spatially dynamic ocean features; (5) the integration of demographic assessment in MPA planning, allowing provision of advice to policy makers, ranging from no to full protection; (6) the clear articulation of management and monitoring plans allowing retrospective evaluation of MPA effectiveness; and (7) the adoption of an adaptive management approach, essential in the light of ongoing and anticipated ecosystem changes and species range shifts in response to climate change. © Inter-Research 2011. Source

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