Gillnets and conservation of the franciscana dolphin (Pontoporia blainvillei) in Argentina: a policy perspective

H. W. Weiskel, P. Bordino, A. M. Arias

Abstract


The franciscana dolphin (Pontoporia blainvillei) is the small cetacean species most frequently caught in inshore gillnet fisheries along the coasts of Argentina, Uruguay and southern Brazil. Within the franciscana's range in the southern Atlantic Ocean, the Cabo San Antonio (CSA) region of the Buenos Aires Province (BAP) in Argentina is an important and understudied location for observations on the species' interactions with the local artisanal gillnet fishery. Through interviews with fishermen, scientists, politicians and officers of the Prefectura Naval Argentina (Argentine Coast Guard, ACG) conducted in 1999 and 2000, this paper investigated the knowledge levels among these different groups about the franciscana and its interactions with the artisanal fishery, in order to develop new policy solutions to the species' high incidental mortality rate in gillnets and failing management regime. The results confirmed the suspected high entanglement rate. The artisanal fishermen were aware of the entanglement problem and reported capture levels, but expressed more concern about their economic stability and the immediate threats posed by overfishing of their target species. The need for coordinated management at the regional, national and international levels emerged as a persistent theme in the interviews, as did a need for education and formal cooperation over living marine resources. Given the current status of fishery and marine mammal laws in Argentina and the South Atlantic region; the widespread use of gillnets; the economics of the artisanal fishery, and the likelihood that sufficient ecological information about the species will not be known or available for many years, several immediate and protective measures to address these needs for the franciscana are suggested.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5597/lajam00022

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