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Commercial fishing endangers dolphin populations
Date:2/4/2010

*"The Mediterranean Sea has a stable and constant dolphin population off the coast of Israel. Any resolution concerning the sea must also consider the dolphins," says Dr. Aviad Scheinin of the University of Haifa, who carried out the study.*

Extensive commercial fishing endangers dolphin populations in the Mediterranean. This has been shown in a new study carried out at the University of Haifa's Department of Maritime Civilizations. "Unfortunately, we turn our backs to the sea and do not give much consideration to our marine neighbors," states researcher Dr. Aviad Scheinin.

The study, which was supervised by Prof. Ehud Spanier and Dr. Dan Kerem, examined the competition between the two top predators along the Mediterranean coast of Israel: the Common Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) and bottom trawlers. (Trawling is the principal type of commercial fishing in Israel and involves dragging a large fishing net through the water, close to the sea floor, from the back of a boat.) These two predators off the coast of Israel trap similar types of fish near the sea floor, so the researchers decided to examine the nature of the competition between the two.

Commercial trawling in the Mediterranean off the coast of Israel targets codfish, red mullet and sole, three commercial and sought-after types of fish. The Department of Fisheries in Israel's Ministry of Agriculture has data showing that over the years the amount of fish from the sea floor looted by Israel's commercial trawling is larger than the amount of fish that nature provides, indicating that the sea floor fish population dropped between the years 1949 and 2006.

Would this decline in fish supply necessarily cause direct harm to the dolphins, seeing as their diet might also include other types of fish? In order to verify this, the researcher examined the contents of the stomachs of 26 dolphins that died and landed on the beach, or that had been caught by mistake. He
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Contact: Rachel Feldman
rfeldman@univ.haifa.ac.il
972-482-88722
University of Haifa
Source:Eurekalert  

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