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Monk seal and hump-backed dolphin are threatened by fishing activities off coast of Mauritania
Date:1/21/2011

rophic level as the monk seal, meaning it feeds on fish, and not on marine mammals as it does off some other coasts. However, "its range is much more pelagic (of open oceans)", says Pinela, who has described the offshore ecotype of the killer whales in this region for the first time.

"Unprecedented" fishing exploitation

"Mauritania contains some of the most heavily-exploited fisheries habitats in the whole world, with one of the world's largest fisheries stocks, which is subject to very little regulation, inspection or control", explains the researcher. Two of the world's most threatened species live off this coast the monk seal, which is on the verge of extinction, and the hump-backed dolphin, which has a very limited geographic range and is little known.

The scientists say conservation of these coastal areas should be "a priority". "The Mauritanian Government and international agencies should more strongly monitor both industrial and traditional fisheries exploitation both in deep sea and coastal areas", says Pinela. Over-fishing and the over-exploitation of resources limits the availability of prey for these species and damages ecosystems.

The research team is calling for "more diligent" regulation of such fishing practices, monitoring and control of the fishing fleet, "be it Mauritanian or international", and the implementation of sustainable fishing off the north west of Africa.

In addition, estimates should be made of fish abundance and catches in the entire study area, because it is "a biodiversity hotspot that is home to a great diversity of marine mammals", concludes Pinela.


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