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Food, Pharmacy, Friend? Bycatch, Direct Take and Consumption of Dolphins in West Africa

Abstract

The extent to which bycatch in artisanal fisheries impacts cetacean populations in West Africa is poorly understood. Between 2007 and 2012, 474 interviews were carried out in The Gambia, Senegal and Guinea-Bissau to collect local fishers’ knowledge on rates of bycatch, local uses for bycaught animals and any cultural significance attached to cetaceans. At least a quarter of respondents in each country stated that they had accidentally caught a dolphin at least once, and greater proportions of interviewees stated that other fishers sometimes caught dolphins. Bycaught animals were usually distributed amongst the community as food, but the meat and oil of dolphins were also used to treat various ailments. There did not appear to be a sizeable market for the sale of dolphin meat. The continued depletion of fish stocks in this region may place more pressure on coastal communities to rely on cetaceans as a food source.

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Notes

  1. Bolong is the name given in Senegal to the creeks which extend from the coast inland through mangroves and wetlands. These channels are important fishing grounds for artisanal fishers.

  2. 1 Gambian Dalasi = US$0.041 / €0.031, conversion rate for Nov 2007, http://www.xe.com/currencytables/

  3. 1 CFA = US$ 0.0022/ €0.0015; conversion rate for June 2011.

  4. 1 CFA (Central West African Franc) = US$ 0.0021/ €0.0015; conversion rate for April 2014.

  5. Senegal: Ministry of Fisheries decree 97–1044, 18 Aug 1987. The Gambia: Fisheries Act, 1991 and the Biodiversity and Wildlife Act 2003. Guinea-Bissau: Regulation of Artisanal Fisheries of Guinea-Bissau, June 2011, Section II: Protected species.

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Acknowledgments

This study was funded in The Gambia by GEF/WB and WWF-WAMER; in Senegal by Wetlands International and WWF-WAMER, and in Guinea-Bissau by the Mohammed Bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, with support from Noé Conservation. We are grateful for the assistance of many people. In The Gambia: Mervyn Baldwyn, Ousainou Touray (DPWM) and interviewers from the Gambian Department of Parks and Wildlife Management. In Senegal: Nathalie Cadot (FIBA), Hélène Schwartz, Abdoullaye Djiba, Moussa S. Diop and interviewers from the Parc National du Delta du Saloum. In Guinea-Bissau: Peggy Poncelet (Noé Conservation), Aissa Regalla (IBAP), Reinaldo Natcha, Gilles Develay (Kasa Afrikana), Simon Wearne and interviewers from the Orango National Park, Parque Natural dos Tarrafes do Rio Cacheu and from Cacine and surrounding villages.

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Correspondence to Ruth H. Leeney.

Appendices

Appendix 1

Questionnaire: The Gambia

  1. 1.

    Sex

  2. 2.

    Age

  3. 3.

    Home town

  4. 4.

    Have you ever accidentally caught a dolphin?

  5. 5.

    Do other fishermen accidentally catch dolphins?

  6. 6.

    What do other fishermen do with accidentally caught dolphins – discard/ keep to eat/ sell/ other (specify).

  7. 7.

    If you or someone you know catches a dolphin, do you sell any of it?

  8. 8.

    How much does dolphin meat sell for?

  9. 9.

    Have you ever eaten dolphin meat?

  10. 10.

    Have you noticed a change in the number of dolphins in Gambian waters? If yes, over what time scale?

  11. 11.

    Do you know of any cultural significance of dolphins in The Gambia, or any uses of dolphins?

  12. 12.

    Why do you think people are not allowed to catch and eat dolphins?

Questionnaire: Senegal

  1. 1.

    Age

  2. 2.

    Vous habitez dans quelle ville ?

  3. 3.

    Est-ce que vous avez jamais attrapé accidentellement un dauphin ?

  4. 4.

    Attrapent les autres pêcheurs accidentellement les dauphins ?

  5. 5.

    Que font-ils les autres pêcheurs avec les dauphins attrapés ? abandonner/ manger / vendre / autre –

  6. 6.

    Combien est-ce qu’on peut gagner pour la vente d’un dauphin ?

  7. 7.

    Avez-vous jamais mangé de la viande de dauphin ?

  8. 8.

    Avez-vous remarqué un changement dans le numéro de dauphins dans cette région ? grand augmentation/ augmentation/ pas de change/ diminution/ grande diminution

    • Depuis quand ?

  9. 9.

    Est-ce qu’il y a des significations culturelles des dauphins au Sénégal ? Si oui, quoi exactement ?

  10. 10.

    Est-ce que c’est légal d’attraper et manger un dauphin au Sénégal ?

Questionnaire: Guinea-Bissau

  1. 1.

    Nome de aldeia

  2. 2.

    Idade

  3. 3.

    Nome de rede

  4. 4.

    Você vê golfinhos / baleias ao redor de sua aldeia?

  5. 5.

    Você já percebeu uma mudança no número de golfinhos na área, sobre sua vida? (Se sim, é um aumento ou uma diminuição, e em que período de tempo?) ? - O que você acha que é a causa desta mudança?

  6. 6.

    As pessoas às vezes capturar golfinhos acidentalmente em suas redes?

  7. 7.

    Se sim, quando foi a última vez que você viu isso acontecer?

  8. 8.

    Você já pegou um golfinho acidentalmente?

  9. 9.

    O que acontece com o golfinho se ele fica preso em uma rede? (É comido / liberada de volta para o mar / vendida como carne / abandonado / alguma outra coisa?)

  10. 10.

    Você já comeu carne de golfinho?

  11. 11.

    O que mais golfinho usado para nesta área?

  12. 12.

    Há tradições ou crenças culturais relativas a golfinhos e baleias em sua aldeia? Se sim, quais são eles?

Appendix 2

Table 3 Numbers of interviews completed at each harbour or landing site and used in final analyses

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Leeney, R.H., Dia, I.M. & Dia, M. Food, Pharmacy, Friend? Bycatch, Direct Take and Consumption of Dolphins in West Africa. Hum Ecol 43, 105–118 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10745-015-9727-3

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Keywords

  • Senegal
  • Gambia
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Marine bushmeat
  • Local fishers’ knowledge