Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences (1999)

DOI: 10.1139/f98-162

Abstract

Demersal gill nets equipped with acoustic alarms reduced harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) by-catch rates by 77% over those without alarms in the Swallowtail area of the lower Bay of Fundy during field testing in August 1996 (68% reduction) and 1997 (85% reduction) (both years combined, three harbour porpoises in 249 alarmed nets versus 14 harbour porpoises in 267 nonalarmed nets). The alarms spaced 100 m apart along the net floatline produced a 0.3-s pulse at 10-12 kHz every 4 s at a level of 133-145 dB re 1 ¬ĶPa at 1 m. In conditions of no rain and low wind (Sea State 0-2) the alarms were presumed to be clearly audible to harbour porpoises at ranges of 0.1-0.6 km. Catch rates of Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus), Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), and pollock (Pollachius virens) were not significantly different in alarmed and nonalarmed nets (except in one season when pollock were caught in lower numbers in alarmed nets). Harbour porpoise by-catch and herring movements may be linked. During years of low herring abundance, we also observed low harbour porpoise entanglement rates.