(…) In this report we examine the indirect exploitation of harbor porpoises, Phocoena phocoena, by the weir fishery for herring (Clupea harengus) in Charlotte County, New Brunswick, in the lower Bay of Fundy. This fishery is of considerable economic importance to the region; the landed value averaged 2.2 million dollars annually from 1974 to 1979 (table 11 in lies 1979). Although herring constitute 50% of the harbor porpoise diet (Smith and Gaskin 1974), the level of competition and conflict between P. phocoena and the fishery is unknown.
The harbor porpoise is taken accidentally by several commercial fisheries throughout the world (Mitchell 1975), including a pound net fishery in Denmark (Andersen 1974) similar to the weir fishery of eastern Canada. In Canadian waters, harbor porpoises have been caught frequently in Newfoundland cod traps (Sergeant and Fisher 1957) and an unknown number are killed annually in gill nets in the Gulf of St. Lawrence (Laurin 1976). In addition to the indirect catch in the Bay of Fundy, harbor porpoises have been hunted for food and oil by native people and fishing families from at least the 19th century to the present (Gilpin 1878; Leighton 1937; Prescott et al. 1981). An unknown number of animals were also used as mink food in the 1950s (Fisher and Harrison 1970). (…)