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Healthy seas: Argentina's experience in protecting the Franciscana dolphin

Bycatch of the Franciscana dolphin, Pontoporia blainvillei, from using gillnets in artisanal fishing has become the main threat to the conservation of this species in Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. In order to mitigate it, Argentina is implementing the use of true-scale acoustic alarms.

Fisherman with a wave detector

Mortality due to interactions with commercial, recreational and subsistence fishing gear is considered to be the greatest threat to many marine mammal species around the world. Bycatch has adverse impacts on animal welfare and conservation, such as population decline, local extirpation or extinction of species and loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services that maintain rich, productive seas and, consequently, stable fishing activities.

In Argentina, the use of acoustic alarms has been promoted for many years. The effectiveness of this tool was tested in small-scale, or artisanal, fishing networks. The experiments showed that the use of these alarms keeps various species at a safe distance from the nets, especially the Franciscana dolphin, without affecting commercial captures by emitting 70 kilohertz sounds.

Along these lines, the use of true-scale acoustic alarms is being implemented through the "Protect marine biodiversity: ecosystem approach to fisheries and protected areas" project. Artisanal fishermen from the Province of Buenos Aires are currently being trained in the use and placement of these devices in their nets.

The Project is implemented by FAO, financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and executed in the coastal provinces of Argentina through the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development. This is one of the activities designed to assess fishing techniques and selectivity devices on a national scale, the mitigation of the impacts of these techniques and devices on the ecosystem, and the inclusion of recommended measures for the application of the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EEP according to its acronym in Spanish) in the Argentine Sea.

Considering the results of the use of alarms on an experimental level, all that's left is to wait for the results of the implementation on a true scale in order to make advances in measures and regulations that favor the protection of the Franciscana dolphin in the region.

Please note that this article was not originally written in this language.
Author: Laura Cerioni / FAO Argentina
Agronoticias would like to thank FAO Argentina for this article.
Photo Credit: FAO Argentina

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