Fisher-cetacean interactions in a coastal social-ecological system: Bycatch impacts on vulnerability and adaptation strategies for viability
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This thesis aims to understand the critical linkages between cetacean bycatch and its impact on the vulnerability and viability of small-scale fisheries (SSF) communities. Cetacean bycatch is extremely complex, having serious social-ecological impacts on both fishers and cetacean populations. Fishers in small-scale fisheries (SSF) are not adequately supported through bycatch policies yet experience the brunt of the consequences and financial strains. Cetaceans are also not properly represented within bycatch policies, with definitions of bycatch failing to encompass the complexity of cetacean interactions with fishers. Such poor bycatch governance influences fisher-cetacean relationships and makes both fishers and cetaceans extremely vulnerable to external threats such as overfishing. Since many cetaceans and small-scale fishers share the same resources and habitats, the status of fisher-cetacean relationships can potentially impact the vulnerability and viability of SSF. This study utilizes a transdisciplinary methodological approach by focusing on bycatch and bycatch management impacts on natural, social, and governing systems to effectively assess the complexity of bycatch mitigation. Multi-stakeholder surveys (n = 50) were completed in the SSF communities of Chilika Lagoon in Odisha state, India to help deepen the understanding of fisher-cetacean interactions. Some SSF communities in Chilika Lagoon cooperatively fish with Irrawaddy dolphins (Orcaella brevirostris). Despite this mutually positive interaction, the Irrawaddy dolphin subpopulation in Chilika Lagoon is still considered to be endangered according to the IUCN Red List. Semi-structured interviews (n = 10) were also completed with key experts on bycatch to include a wider range of bycatch perspectives. Key bycatch experts interviewed were from a variety of countries to explore how different countries view cetacean bycatch and manage its impacts. The results of the surveys and interviews brought to light a disconnect between what fishers and key bycatch experts perceive to be bycatch, illustrating the lack of knowledge sharing between fishers and other stakeholders. Findings of the research also show that small-scale fisher perspectives must be incorporated in how bycatch is defined within fisheries policies as fishers are the ones directly dealing with bycatch interactions. Furthermore, the findings highlight that small-scale fishers must be given access power and decision making through appropriate cetacean bycatch governance which works together with adaptive bycatch management strategies to make bycatch governance effective for both cetaceans and fishers to remain viable for the long-term.
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Emily Filinska (2022). Fisher-cetacean interactions in a coastal social-ecological system: Bycatch impacts on vulnerability and adaptation strategies for viability. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/18319