In a new survey led by the University of Florida, it has been revealed that a industry wide practice of killing dolphins, sea lions, seals, and otters is taking place worldwide. The survey was published in the journal of Frontiers in Marine Science.
The discovery outlined that fisheries in at least 33 countries use more than 40 species of aquatic mammals. According to the study, the practice is most common in Latin America and Asia, although it was found to take place on a smaller scale in the Mediterranean and Australia.
Although the practice was not found to be taking place in North America or Europe, both continents frequently ship seafood from those countries that are partaking which promotes the use of marine mammals as bait.
Since the practice is kept quiet due to the nature of it, the researchers predict that the actual figure is much higher than those numbers published. The numbers published were actual instances that were documented by conservationists and scientists.
Typically, the marine mammals are swept up as a result of bycatch. Many of the species outline are illegal to catch so fisherman will cover their tracks by killing the animals and chopping it up to use as bait.
Although the majority of practice is due to bycatch, it was found that some fisherman are actively hunting marine mammals to use as bait because they are considered an effective meat to attract sharks.
Of those marine mammals use as bait, the common bottlenose dolphin is used in at least an astonishing 17 countries and nearly 27 percent of the species in the study are listed as threatened, critically endangered, or near threatened.
In a statment, lead author Dr Vanessa J. Mintzer outlined her hope that the study will help solve the problem, “For scientists already working on species and locations identified as ‘hot spots’ in this review, organized efforts should begin right away to estimate these numbers. It took years to determine that the hunt for botos was unsustainable and now conservation actions need to be expedited. We need to identify other affected populations now to facilitate timely conservation actions.”
“For scientists already working on species and locations identified as ‘hot spots’ in this review, organized efforts should begin right away to estimate these numbers,” lead author Dr Vanessa J. Mintzer, from the University of Florida, said in a statement. “It took years to determine that the hunt for botos was unsustainable and now conservation actions need to be expedited. We need to identify other affected populations now to facilitate timely conservation actions.”