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Industry-Based Documentation of the Effectiveness of F3 ‘Whale Pingers’ at Reducing Humpback Whale Interactions with Alaska Salmon Fisheries

Investigators

Synopsis

Fishermen are the best source of information on the effectiveness of whale pingers that they place on their nets. Researchers will document this information as gleaned from meetings, interviews, voluntary logbooks, and questionnaires. Researchers also will work with fishing representatives (Industry Working Group) to identify and design field experiments that address questions the fleets and resource managers have regarding the effects pingers have on whale behavior.

Overview

The issue

As the number of humpback whales feeding in Alaska’s nearshore waters increases, the potential for this protected species to encounter fishing nets and lines in coastal Alaska is increasing. These interactions can be dangerous to the whales and fishermen involved, and expensive in terms of net repairs and fishing time lost. Therefore the ultimate goal of fishermen and managers alike is to reduce whale entanglement potential. By documenting the effectiveness of whale pingers, researchers will support Alaska fishermen in their proactive attempts to reduce whale encounters using F3 whale pingers.

Why is this an Alaska Sea Grant project?

The project addresses Alaska Sea Grant’s goal of sustainable fisheries and aquaculture. Reducing the potential for entanglement (bycatch) of large whales can clearly benefit recovery of endangered whales and enhance the sustainability of Alaska fisheries and the economies of coastal communities that rely on them.

How will researchers conduct their study?

Researchers will gather feedback from Alaska commercial fishermen through community contacts, a series of outreach activities, and establishment of an Industry Working Group. Because current users of the F3 pingers are the best source of information on their effectiveness, researchers will gather detailed feedback from commercial fishermen who are using F3 whale pingers via (a) pre-season fleet meetings, (b) in-season logbooks, and (c) end-of-season questionnaires. Results will be synthesized into a “best practices” placard for fishermen.

Research collaborators

ADFG
NOAA Protected Resources
Gulf of Alaska salmon fishermen (from Southeast to Southwestern Alaska)

Results

Research outcomes

Anticipated benefits: Reducing the potential for entanglement (bycatch) of large whales can clearly benefit recovery of endangered whales and enhance the sustainability of Alaska fisheries and the economies of coastal communities that rely on them.

At a glance

Project number: R/33-03

Project status: New

Initiated: 02/01/2014

Expected completion: 07/31/2015

Objectives: Document the effectiveness of low-frequency acoustic whale alarms (“pingers”) at reducing whale bycatch in Alaska salmon net fisheries.

Focus area (theme): Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture

Location: Researchers will work with fishermen and convene fleet-specific meetings in Petersburg, Kodiak, and Sand Point, Alaska, and meet with an Industry Working Group in Anchorage in April 2014.