How global protection of marine life can harm fishing communities

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New research from the University of Oxford, published in Letters of conservation, examined the conflict between artisanal fisheries and marine mammals, using the experience of fishing on the west coast of South America to highlight a global problem.

Globally, the conflict between the recovery of seal and sea lion populations and fishing communities has intensified. This new research presents a unique insight into this conflict, particularly from the perspective of fishermen, and offers solutions that will be relevant to many fishing communities around the world.

In this part of South America, more precisely in Peru and Chile, marine mammals have been protected since the middle of the 20th century. Conservation policies have for the most part been successful, and over the past three decades, populations of marine mammals, especially sea lions and seals, have recovered. However, this recovery means that there is a much higher probability that these animals will come into conflict with local fishermen. The study found:

• Almost 9 out of 10 anglers have a negative impression of sea lions.

• Fishermen report that, on average, sea lions reduce their catch and income by more than 50%.

• Although it is illegal to kill sea lions and seals, it happens regularly with over 70% of fishermen admitting that sea lions are killed in defense of the catch.

• The major concern of fishermen is that sea lion populations are now too large.

To manage this conflict, it is necessary to balance the competing objectives of conserving wildlife and protecting local communities. There are still concerns about sea lion and seal populations due to their recent recovery, but artisanal fishing is struggling and fishermen often earn less than minimum wage.

The international community must integrate the needs and views of fishermen into the global dialogue, including considering whether the protection of human well-being might imply a reduction in the protection of marine mammals.

“If the global community commits to a post-2020 agreement for nature and people where improvements in human well-being and nature conservation are both realized – the elusive ‘win-win’ – then governments and scientists must engage in these “messy” local conflicts which are repeated around the world but resist high level simplification Professor Katrina Davis

Sea lions and seals eat the same fish targeted by the fishery, so they compete for resources, and it is not uncommon for fishermen to catch fish that have already been “nibbled” on by marine mammals. They can also get accidentally caught in fishing nets and break them, which means fisheries have to pay to replace equipment.

By understanding the motivations and perceptions of fishermen, we can develop more effective management solutions for fisheries. Including management of sea lion populations, provision of financial compensation for loss of catches and damage to gear, training programs and the transition from fishing to ecotourism.

Lead author Professor Katrina Davis says: “A delicate balance must be struck between ensuring the future viability of marine mammal populations and ensuring that the livelihoods of artisanal fishermen are protected. lions, and it is these perceptions that we must deal with when developing policy solutions. “

In the future, the researchers plan to study the impact of culls on these interactions, whether it would be viable without harming population levels and whether it would reduce aggression to marine mammals.

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More information:
Katrina J. Davis et al, Local Disconnections in Global Discourses – The Unintended Consequences of Marine Mammal Protection on Small-Scale Fishers, Letters of conservation (2021). DOI: 10.1111 / conl.12835

Provided by the University of Oxford

Quote: Troubled Waters: How Global Protection of Marine Wildlife Can Hurt Fishing Communities (2021, September 14) retrieved September 19, 2021 from undermine-fishing.html

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Betty T. Simpson

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