Gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus) mortality incidental to commercial fishing operations in British Columbia (BC), Canada was evaluated by two methods: a mailed questionnaire survey of all commercial fishing licence holders in the province; and a review of records of incidental catches, strandings and dead floating animals from published and unpublished sources. Of 5,375 surveys sent out, 848 were returned of which 729 could be used (15.8%). Forty-two incidents with gray whales were reported, including three mortalities. From sources other than the questionnaire for the period up to 1989, 41 records of stranded and dead floating gray whales were obtained, of which four were judged to have been killed incidentally in fishing operations. Twenty-six of these animals had not been examined closely, but extrapolation from the 15 detailed records suggests that 27% of the dead gray whales reported in BC die incidentally in fisheries. Collisions with fishing gear are estimated to occur approximately 20 times per year. Mortality occurs in salmon drift gillnet, salmon seine, longline and trap fisheries. There is also one record of an individual entangled and drowned in a herring net pen, as well as an individual entangled in a herring set gillnet. Estimates of annual mortality are approximately two individuals using data obtained from the questionnaire and 2.4 individuals using stranding data. Biases are present for both sampling methods, but the estimated mortality levels are small relative to population size. Subsequent records (n = 40) for the period 1990–95 were also examined for comparison.
An evaluation of gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus) mortality incidental to fishing operations in British Columbia, Canada
Title: An evaluation of gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus) mortality incidental to fishing operations in British Columbia, Canada
January 01, 2002
Journal: Journal of Cetacean Research Management
Publisher: International Whaling Commision
Baird, R.; Stacey, P.; Duffus, D.; Langelier, K. (2002). An evaluation of gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus) mortality incidental to fishing operations in British Columbia, Canada. Journal of Cetacean Research Management, 4(3), 289-296.