|Categories||Cetaceans, Mammals, Marine|
|Date||16 Aug 2016|
Andaman Islands, part of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands union territory of India, have a growing fisheries sector, bringing them into close contact with the cetaceans present in the region. Anecdotal evidence confirms the presence of 8 species in Andaman waters, one of which is the sperm whale, which is classified as Vulnerable (IUCN, 2014) while the rest fall under the Data Deficient category. Gill nets, hook and line, trawlers and long lines are among the major fishing gears involved in the region, of which, gill nets and long lines are known to entangle cetaceans.
There is, however, a lack of data about fisheries interactions with cetaceans from this biodiversity rich region due to an absence of systematic research. Cetaceans, throughout their habitat, are facing a threat due to their conflict with the fisheries sector. Cetaceans also cause damage to the fishing gear and depredate the catch, which has financial implications for fisherfolk, especially the small-scale fishermen, which form a majority of the fishermen in the Andaman Islands. However, presence of cetaceans is sometimes used as an indicator of the underlying fish stock. All these factors could effect the fisherfolk’s perceptions about cetaceans as well as their attitude and involvement in any marine mammal conservation effort.
Using interviews, this project will create a baseline on accidental entanglement of cetaceans in fishing gear, financial impacts of cetacean-fisheries interactions, perceptions and the drivers of these perceptions in the fisherfolk, and traditional knowledge about cetaceans in the ethnically diverse local population. We will also initiate a participatory monitoring programme where the fisherfolk will be involved to collect information on the presence of pods, species presence and accidental entangelments in their fishing grounds. This project will address the gap in information on cetacean-fisheries interactions in the Andaman group of islands and try to develop tools to involve fishermen in cetacean conservation.
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