Report of the International Whaling Commission (1994)


Information on small cetacean mortality in Peruvian fisheries is reviewed for the 1990-1993 period, i.e. after the national ban on cetacean exploitation. Most ports along the Peruvian coast were sampled during short visits while Cerro Azul, Pucusana, Chimbote, Ancon and San Andres were more intensively monitored. The ban was found not to be enforced or at best only partially so. Fishermen often avoided overtly landing entire carcasses, which impeded quantification of kills. Large numbers of small cetaceans were caught directly and indirectly in drift and set gillnets, were harpooned or were netted in purse seines (and often landed alive) by vessels operated by the fishmeal industry. Principal species affected included Lagenorhynchus obscurus, Delphinus capensis, Phocoena spinipinnis and Tursiops truncatus, although occasional takes of at least six other small cetacean species occurred. Estimated annual kills (±SE) were: 1,651±53 (1990) at Pucusana; 2,118±389 (1992) and 1,927±237 (1992/93) at Cerro Azul; 2,100 (1991) and 1,383±274 (1992) at Ancon; 1,825±220 at Chimbote (1993) and about 470 at San Andres (1992). Santa Rosa, San Jose, Culebras, Huarmey and Chancay also accounted for high landings. Although no scientific estimate of the total annual take of cetaceans in the period 1990-1993 can be calculated, the best available evidence suggests it ranged between 15,000 and 20,000 specimens. Albeit illegal, fresh and processed muchame type cetacean meat is widely available and openly sold. A new ministerial decree of August 1994 caused a welcome wave of law enforcement action, but its impact and long-term effects still have to be assessed. Recommendations on how to mitigate kills are discussed.