Environmentalists, Fishermen, Cetaceans and Fish: Is There a Balance and Can Science Help to Find it?
It is only relatively recently that cetologists have considered anything other than direct exploitation as an important threat to cetaceans. Given the centuries old tradition of whaling and the history of attempts to regulate the industry (e.g. see review in Donovan, 1992), this is perhaps not surprising. The issue addressed in this chapter, that of non-deliberate or incidental captures of cetaceans in fishing gear, was not seriously considered a problem until the late 1960s when biologists on board fishing vessels observed high levels of incidental catches of dolphins in the tuna purseseine fishery in the eastern tropical Pacific (Perrin, 1968). This fishery is now one of the best-studied examples (Joseph, 1994; Hall, 1998) and we will use it throughout the chapter as a case study to illustrate one approach to address a particular bycatch problem.