Interactions between marine mammals and pelagic longline fishing gear in the U.S. Atlantic Ocean between 1992 and 2004


Garrison, Lance P.
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The U.S. East Coast pelagic longline fishery has a history of interactions with marine mam-mals, where animals are hooked and entangled in longline gear. Pilot whales (Globicephala spp.) and Risso’s dolphin (Grampus griseus) are the primary species that interact with longline gear. Logistic regression was used to assess the environmental and gear characteristics that influence interaction rates. Pilot whale interactions were correlated with warm water temperatures, proximity to the shelf break, mainline lengths greater than 20 nautical miles, and damage to swordfish catch. Similarly, Risso’s dolphin interactions were correlated with geographic location, proximity the shelf break, the length of the main-line, and bait type. The incidental bycatch of marine mammals is likely associated with depredation of the commercial catch and is increased by the overlap between marine mammal and target species habitats. Altering gear characteristics and fishery practices may mitigate incidental bycatch and reduce economic losses due to depredation.