Líffræðifélag Íslands - biologia.is
Líffræðiráðstefnan 2019

Erindi/veggspjald / Talk/poster E72

Monitoring and mitigating humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) entanglement in fishing gear in Iceland

Höfundar / Authors: Charla Jean Basran (1,2)

Starfsvettvangur / Affiliations: 1. University of Iceland, 2. University of Iceland's Húsavík Research Centre

Kynnir / Presenter: Charla Jean Basran

Cetacean entanglement in fishing gear is of global concern and is one of the leading causes of human-induced mortality. Humpback whale entanglement can result in detrimental impacts to the individual whale, the population and the fishing industries. This study consists of three research components used to determine the extent of entanglement in the Icelandic population of humpback whales and to explore acoustic alarms as a possible mitigation method. First, scar-analysis was conducted by analyzing photographs of humpback whales taken around Iceland. Results estimated a minimum of 25% of Icelandic humpback whales have been entangled at least once, and this is occurring at a rate of 2% annually. Additionally, surveys and interviews of Icelandic fishers were conducted to gather eye-witness accounts of entanglement. Preliminary results show that entanglement and gear damage is occurring in all types of Icelandic fisheries, with humpback whales being the most reported species. Lastly, acoustic alarms were tested both individually and on a capelin purse seine net as a potential entanglement mitigation method. Results showed humpback whales significantly increased their speed and decreased their surface feeding behaviour in response to the 3kHz “whale pinger”. Humpback whales still entered the capelin purse seine net fitted with the pingers from the bottom but managed to escape through a pinger-free opening left for them to escape, showing potential for minimizing gear damage.