2022 Jun/07

Research for Society

French Research Mobilised to Reduce Cetacean Bycatch

Episodes of dolphin mortality are not new in France, with peaks of strandings on the Atlantic coast observed in winter since the 1990s. However, an increase in dolphin bycatch has been observed since 2016 in the Bay of Biscay. The causes of this increase remain poorly understood.

Although the number of common dolphins visiting the Bay of Biscay in winter does not show a decline, current scientific estimates underline the existence of a risk: indeed, if the high levels of incidental catches were to persist, the maintenance of the population could be at risk in the long term. However, there are still too many gaps in our knowledge to understand the environmental and human factors at the origin of these catches and their increase, such as climate change or the decrease in the average size of anchovies and sardines, dolphins’ prey of choice.

The Delmoges project, a 3-year interdisciplinary research project launched on 1 March and led by Ifremer, La Rochelle Université and CNRS, aims to produce new scientific knowledge to better understand the interactions between dolphins and fishing activities, and then to identify solutions that will help reduce the mortalities and ensure the protection of dolphin populations, without disproportionately affecting the fishing activity.