Estimating Bycatch From Non-representative Samples (II): A Case Study of Pair Trawlers and Common Dolphins in the Bay of Biscay

Type Article
Date 2022-01
Language English
Author(s) Rouby Etienne1, 2, 3, Dubroca LaurentORCID4, Cloâtre Thomas5, Demanèche Sebastien5, Genu Mathieu1, 3, Macleod Kelly6, Peltier Hélène3, 7, Ridoux Vincent1, 2, 3, Authier Matthieu1, 3, 7
Affiliation(s) 1 : Université de La Rochelle, La Rochelle, France
2 : UMR7372 Centre d'Etudes Biologiques de Chizé (CEBC), Villiers En Bois, France
3 : Observatoire PELAGIS, UMS3462, CNRS-La Rochelle Université, La Rochelle, France
4 : Ifremer, Laboratoire Ressources Halieutiques de Port en Bessin, Port-en-Bessin-Huppain, France
5 : Ifremer, Laboratoire de Biologie Halieutique de Brest, Brest, France
6 : Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Aberdeen, United Kingdom
7 : ADERA, Pessac, France
Source Frontiers In Marine Science (2296-7745) (Frontiers Media SA), 2022-01 , Vol. 8 , P. 795942 (15p.)
DOI 10.3389/fmars.2021.795942
WOS© Times Cited 3
Keyword(s) additional mortality, anthropogenic activities, modelling, non-representative samples, conservation, small cetaceans, fisheries, post-stratification

Marine megafauna plays an important functional role in marine ecosystems as top predators but are threatened by a wide range of anthropogenic activities. Bycatch, the incidental capture of non-targeted species in commercial and recreational fisheries, is of particular concern for small cetacean species, such as dolphins and porpoises. In the North-East Atlantic, common dolphin (Delphinus delphis, Linné 1758) bycatch has been increasing and associated with large numbers of animals stranding during winter on the French Atlantic seashore since at least 2017. However, uncertainties around the true magnitude of common dolphin bycatch and the fisheries involved have led to delays in the implementation of mitigation measures. Current data collection on dolphin bycatch in France is with non-dedicated observers deployed on vessels for the purpose of national fisheries sampling programmes. These data cannot be assumed representative of the whole fisheries' bycatch events. This feature makes it difficult to use classic ratio estimators since they require a truly randomised sample of the fishery by dedicated observers. We applied a newly developed approach, regularised multilevel regression with post-stratification, to estimate total bycatch from unrepresentative samples and total fishing effort. The latter is needed for post-stratification and the former is analysed in a Bayesian framework with multilevel regression to regularise and better predict bycatch risk. We estimated the number of bycaught dolphins for each week and 10 International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) divisions from 2004 to 2020 by estimating jointly bycatch risk, haul duration, and the number of hauls per days at sea (DaS). Bycatch risk in pair trawlers flying the French flag was the highest in winter 2017 and 2019 and was associated with the longest haul durations. ICES divisions 8.a and 8.b (shelf part of the Bay of Biscay) were estimated to have the highest common dolphin bycatch. Our results were consistent with independent estimates of common dolphin bycatch from strandings. Our method show cases how non-representative observer data can nevertheless be analysed to estimate fishing duration, bycatch risk and, ultimately, the number of bycaught dolphins. These weekly-estimates improve upon current knowledge of the nature of common dolphin bycatch and can be used to inform management and policy decisions at a finer spatio-temporal scale than has been possible to date. Our results suggest that limiting haul duration, especially in winter, could serve as an effective mitigation strategy.

Data is available here to reproduce the method described in this paper :


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Rouby Etienne, Dubroca Laurent, Cloâtre Thomas, Demanèche Sebastien, Genu Mathieu, Macleod Kelly, Peltier Hélène, Ridoux Vincent, Authier Matthieu (2022). Estimating Bycatch From Non-representative Samples (II): A Case Study of Pair Trawlers and Common Dolphins in the Bay of Biscay. Frontiers In Marine Science, 8, 795942 (15p.). Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :