Scientific Committee Meeting Documents (1999)


Limited monitoring of 30 fishing ports on the central and northern Peruvian coast, from 03º29’S to 14º10’S, in the period 1995-99, yielded evidence of small cetacean exploitation in 25 ports (83%). Despite hiding of catches by fishermen, we documented the remains of (minimum) 452 captured small cetaceans, comprising 66 unidentified and 386 identified individuals belonging to seven species (% of known species total): Phocoena spinipinnis (n=168, 43.5%), Lagenorhynchus obscurus (n=84, 21.8%), Delphinus capensis (n=67, 17.3%), Truncatus truncatus (n=35, 9.1%), Delphinus sp. (n=24, 6.2%), Delphinus delphis (n=4, 1.0%), Globicephala sp. (n=3, 0.8%) and Ziphius cavirostris (n=1, 0.3%). Meat continues to be consumed and sold by coastal people, but mostly locally. Indications are, in contrast with earlier years, that large amounts of both meat and blubber are used as bait in the shark fisheries. Not only long-lines but also large-mesh gillnets are baited. Accounts of harpooning indicate demand for bait exceeds the quantity by-catches can provide. Proportion of dusky dolphin in total catches off central Peru has been in continuous decline since recording started in 1985, adding weight to the hypothesis (Van Waerebeek, 1994) that it may reflect a true decrease in their abundance due to exploitation. We also document nine recent cases of confirmed by-catch, suspected by-catch or confirmed intentional take in north-central Chile (Regions II, III, IV) affecting P. spinipinnis (3), Kogia breviceps (3), D. capensis (1), Globicephala melas (1) and Mesoplodon peruvianus (1). Information was collected opportunistically, therefore true catch levels may be much higher than results seem to suggest. Further dedicated field research is recommended.