Report of the International Whaling Commission (1994)


This paper reviews published and unpublished information on the mortality of cetaceans in gillnets in Mexico, Central America and the wider Caribbean. Data on this incidental mortality are provided from only nine of the 36 nations in the area (Colombia, the Dominican Republic, French Guiana, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Surinam, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela); the lack of mortality records from the other countries reflects poor or non-existent documentation. We surveyed those types of passive fishing gear which potentially or actually entrap cetaceans in this large area; these included gillnets with mesh sizes of 18 to 400mm. At least 14 species of cetaceans have been caught in fishing nets in this area: vaquitas, common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, tucuxis, Atlantic spotted dolphins, spinner dolphins, clymene dolphins, Risso’s dolphins, killer whales, pygmy sperm whales, botos, gray whales, humpback whales and balaenopterids. At least another five species are potentially at risk: pantropical spotted dolphins, striped dolphins, Pacific white-sided dolphins, false killer whales and short-finned pilot whales. Of special concern is the endangered vaquita in the northern Gulf of California, Mexico.