Seal interactions with Cape Cod fisheries: Cooperative approaches to assessment and mitigation


Thursday, April 12, 2012
Redfield Auditorium - 12:00 Noon
Mr. Owen Nichols
Director, Marine Fisheries Research, Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies
Ph.D. Candidate, School for Marine Science and Technology, University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth

As local seal abundance has increased, so has reporting of fishing gear depredation by seals and concern about the larger-scale ecological interaction (competition) between seals and commercial and recreational fisheries.  Depredation, during which seals directly remove target species from fishing gear, has been observed or reported in most Cape Cod fixed-gear and rod-and-reel fisheries.  However, it is difficult to quantify the extent of these interactions and to determine if they represent competition on a scale greater than that of the area or gear fished.  Through directed outreach to the fishing community, research priorities and data gaps have been identified.  In collaboration with the commercial fishing industry, several studies of gray seal (Halichoerus grypus) interactions with commercial fisheries are underway.  A workshop was held in fall 2011 at which scientists, resource managers, and fishing community members identified key issues and future research priorities.  Preliminary research results and workshop findings will be discussed.