General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean - GFCM


Interactions between fisheries and the marine environment and ecosystems

Marine spatial planning

Depredation project | Mitigating dolphin depredation in Mediterranean fisheries – Joining efforts for strengthening cetacean conservation and sustainable fisheries

The project ‘Mitigating dolphin depredation in Mediterranean fisheries – Joining efforts for strengthening cetacean conservation and sustainable fisheries’ (also known as the Depredation Project) was launched in 2018 with the objective of deepening the understanding of and mitigating depredation by cetaceans – when they partially or completely remove catches from fishing gear – which is a growing cause for concern in several Mediterranean fisheries, where  interactions mainly happen with bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and the socio-economic impacts of damaged fishing gears and lost catches create conflicts with fishers. The project focused on depredation in small pelagic purse seine fisheries in Morocco and Tunisia, and expanded its activities in 2020 to also cover select Italian, Maltese and Spanish small-scale fisheries in order to keep on improving knowledge and identify technical and management solutions to reduce the phenomenon.  


Mitigation solutions aim to reduce dolphin depredation in the Mediterranean

Dolphins are known around the world for their intelligence and their curiosity. Across the Mediterranean Sea, they approach fishing vessels and attempt to remove catch directly from fishing gear. The phenomenon is called depredation, and has been a growing concern for fishers over the last few decades. ARES / FR 


  • Systematically assess the depredation caused by cetaceans in purse seine fisheries in the western and central Mediterranean
  • Study the ecological and population dynamics of bottlenose dolphins in relation to fisheries and aquaculture activities
  • Test different mitigation measures with the technical support of skilled experts and the close engagement of the fishing sector
  • Raise awareness on the conservation of the marine environment, its species and habitats as well as the sustainability of fisheries among relevant stakeholders  

DURATION: 2018 – 2022 

FOCUS COUNTRIES: Italy, Malta, Morocco, Spain, Tunisia 

PARTNERSHIP: Coordinated by ACCOBAMS and GFCM, in collaboration with SPA/RAC and LIFE 


  • Developed the Dolphin depredation in Mediterranean and Black Sea fisheries - Methodology for data collection, to ensure a standardized approach to monitor/assess depredation and support replicability in other sites when dealing with depredation phenomena

  • Launched a monitoring programme in the regions of M’Diq and Al Hoceima (Morocco), in the Kelibia area (Tunisia) as well as in Andalucía (Spain), Sicily (Italy) and Malta, to gain knowledge on dolphin interactions with purse seine fisheries, through on-board observations and questionnaires at port

  • Tested a new type of strengthened purse seine net, assessing its efficiency and depredation levels compared with a standard purse seine net (Morocco); and tested the efficiency of different acoustic deterrent devices in Italy, Malta, Spain and at a Tunisian fish farm where bottlenose dolphins interact with the cage nets

  • Assessed the long-term sustainability of the small pelagic fisheries in the context of stock reduction and competition for the resource

  • Published the Review on Depredation by Marine Mammals in Fishing Gears in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, establishing a baseline for depredation in the region and identifying existing gaps, an important basis for informing and prioritizing future efforts on depredation in the region

  • Conducted photo-identification workshops and line transect surveys to train technical teams on at-sea techniques to study dolphin populations

  • Organized exchange of experiences on the different mitigation techniques trialed

  • Raised awareness to include the depredation issue in the actions and commitments (regional priorities, strategic objectives) of Mediterranean countries, ensuring long-term attention is given to the phenomenon and related solutions.



  • MareCamp ONLUS Association, Italy
  • Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST), Malta
  • National Institute for Fisheries Research (INRH), Morocco 
  • Asociación Herpetológica Española (AHE), Spain
  • National Institute of Marine Sciences and Technologies (INSTM) and National Institute of Agronomy of Tunis (INAT), Tunisia



Fishery Resources Monitoring Officer

With the financial support of :