Report of the International Whaling Commission (1995)


Little is known about the biology or status of the harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) in British Columbia (BC), Canada. In this study, all available records of stranded and incidentally caught harbour porpoise are reviewed. Eighty-one records of stranded animals, or of animals caught in fishing gear along the BC coast, from the period 1934-1991, are presented. The harbour porpoise is the most frequently recorded cetacean stranding on the coast of BC. Stranding records are concentrated where there are large areas of water ranging in depth from 10 to 1oom, usually associated with human population centres. Strandings have occurred throughout the year, but biases in effort preclude the determination of any seasonal or geographic trends. Records exist of animals taken incidentally in three commercial fisheries as well as in Canadian government test and research fisheries. Two animals taken incidentally in fisheries in adjacent US waters have also been recovered in BC. In addition, shark predation has been implicated in the death of one individual.