Marine megafauna interactions with the Peruvian artisanal purse-seine fleet
Bycatch is a global problem for marine megafauna. Peru is a major fishing nation known in particular for its industrial purse-seine fishery for the Peruvian anchovy (Engraulis ringens). However, Peru also has an artisanal purse-seine fishery for this same resource and other species such as Pacific bonito (Sarda chiliensis), Pacific chub mackerel (Scomber japonicus) and Chilean jack mackerel (Trachurus murphyi) used for human consumption. While there is limited documentation of bycatch of megafauna by the industrial purse-seine fishery, there is no similar information for the artisanal purse-seine fishery. Therefore, this study aimed to assess the marine megafauna (small-cetaceans, seabirds, sea turtles, and elasmobranchs) bycatch interactions of the Peruvian artisanal purse-seine fishery for consumption for the year 2019 (before the COVID-19 pandemic) through interviews with artisanal fishers in 5 landing ports (San Jose, Santa Rosa, Callao, Pucusana, and San Andres). We found that these fisheries had bycatch with all taxa groups, with dusky dolphins (Lagenorhynchus obscurus), guanay cormorants (Leucocarbo bougainvilliorum) and eagle rays (Myliobatis spp.) having the highest quantity and most frequently reported bycatch. Multiple correspondence analysis (MCA) indicated an association between the bycatch of 1–3 common dolphins (Delphinus spp.) per set from the northern ports (San Jose and Santa Rosa) and vessels of 20–36 MT. Likewise, a relationship was found between smooth hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna zygaena) and vessel storage capacity, with a similar result reported for the bycatch of humpback smoothhounds (Mustelus whitneyi). In addition, a relationship of eagle ray (Myliobatis spp.) bycatch with a landing port was identified, and several respondents mentioned catching more than 1 MT per set. Fifty-three percent of fishers considered bycatch to be a problem, mainly because it wastes their time during fishing operations. This preliminary study is the first research that demonstrates bycatch in artisanal purse-seine in Peru and can serve as a baseline for future research. We also highlight the need to quantify bycatch rates of marine megafauna using additional methodologies, such as monitoring with onboard observers.