Spatial and temporal assessment of potential risk to cetaceans from static fishing gears
Ecosystem Based Fisheries Management (EBFM) requires the consideration of potential impacts of a commercial fishery on all components of the ecosystem. Assessment of the impact of commercial fishing on marine mammals generally focuses on species at known risk from bycatch. For cetaceans in particular, inclusion under the Threatened, Endangered and Protected (TEP) species component of Ecological Risk Assessment for the Effects of Fishing (ERAEF) can seem redundant if a species is already known to be at risk or is not thought to interact with the fishery with consequences for its conservation. A spatially and temporally explicit Productivity Susceptibility Analysis (PSA) procedure was developed for inclusion under ERAEF to allow cetacean species to be screened for risk. The technique is demonstrated by assessing the potential risk to harbour porpoise and minke whales from a number of static gear fisheries. The results demonstrate that although a fishery might pose high risk to a species, low or moderate risk areas can exist within the range of the fishery, enabling management measures to focus on areas of greatest risk. Designed to complement and support existing methods of bycatch assessment, this approach is a repeatable and standardised assessment, the outputs of which can be used to systematically document the level of risk posed to different species in a transparent way to aid the inclusion of cetaceans in ERAEF and EBFM both now and in the future.