The fate of the world's great whale species commands global attention as a result of heated debate between pro and anti-whaling advocates, but the fate of smaller marine mammals is less understood, specifically because the deliberate and accidental catching and killing of dolphins, porpoises, manatees, and other warm-blooded aquatic species are rarely studied or monitored.
To shed more light on the issue, researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society and Okapi Wildlife Associates have conducted an exhaustive global study of human consumption of marine mammals using approximately 900 sources of information. The main finding: since 1990, people in at least 114 countries have consumed one or more of at least 87 marine mammal species.
The new global study appears in the most recent edition of Biological Conservation. The authors include: Dr. Martin D. Robards of the Wildlife Conservation Society; and Dr. Randall R. Reeves of Okapi Wildlife Associates.
"International regulatory bodies exist to gauge the status of whale populations and regulate the hunting of these giants," said Robards, lead author of the study. "These species, however, represent only a fraction of the world's diversity of marine mammals, many of which are being accidentally netted, trapped, andin some instancesdirectly hunted without any means of tracking as to whether these off-takes are sustainable."
In order to build a statistically robust picture of human consumption rates of marine mammals around the world, Robards and Reeves started with records on small fisheries focused on small whales (i.e. pilot whales), dolphins, and porpoises from 1975 and records of global marine mammal catches between 1966 and 1975. From there, the authors consulted some 900 other sources and consulted with numerous researchers and environmental managers, an exhaustive investigation that took three years to complete. The team only counted information with actual ev
|Contact: John Delaney|
Wildlife Conservation Society