Overfishing In Mediterranean Causing Dolphins To Break Into Fishing Nets

Desperate times call for desperate measures...

Dolphins short on prey are resorting to underhand tactics to find a meal – tearing into nets to access the fish inside.

Researchers studying interactions between dolphins and fishermen in northern Cyprus found nets were six times more prone to damage when dolphins were in the vicinity.

They concluded that the marauding marine mammals were therefore the most likely culprits.

“It seems that some dolphins may be actively seeking nets as a way to get food,” said Dr Robin Snape, an ecologist at the University of Exeter, who led the study.

Net damage is irritating for the fishermen themselves, and can cost individuals thousands of euros every year. This is particularly problematic as most operations in the region are small scale.

However, the scientists suggested the fishermen must take some share of the blame, as overfishing in the region is a likely driver for the dolphins’ unusual behaviour.

Dr Snape highlighted a “vicious cycle” that is “probably driven by falling fish stocks, which also result in low catches – meaning more nets are needed and higher costs for fishers”.

Photo: Evan Kirby/Unsplash

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