[MARMAM] New Publication: Harbour porpoise strandings - analysis of UK west coast long-term dataset

Morris, Ceri Ceri.Morris at cyfoethnaturiolcymru.gov.uk
Thu Feb 27 06:41:51 PST 2020

My colleagues and I are pleased to announce the publication of the following report:

ten Doeschate M.T.I., Brownlow A.C., Morris C. W., and Stringell T. B. 2019. UK West Coast Harbour Porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) Strandings. NRW Evidence Report Series, Report No: 358, 66pp, Natural Resources Wales, Bangor

The UK has a statutory obligation under the EU Habitats Directive to report on the conservation status of harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) and to quantify threats and pressures at both an individual and population level. This report summarises strandings data of harbour porpoise collected by the UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP) for the west coast of the UK from 1992 to 2017, and highlights the implications for management.

Analyses aimed to establish a baseline pattern in strandings, and provide insight into the population structure and potential areas of importance. Spatial variation in cause of death was examined, focussing on direct-anthropogenic (bycatch and ship strike) versus other causes of mortality. The most common direct anthropogenic cause of death (98.5%) was fisheries bycatch, with notable clusters on the south west UK coast consistent with known bycatch hotspots for the inshore fishing fleet.

The body condition of harbour porpoise was characterised as a proxy for assessing spatiotemporal variation in population fitness, and indicated that there was no significant change in apparent fitness over this time period. More than a quarter of the strandings on the UK west coast occurred in Cardigan Bay, Wales. GAMM modelling revealed regional differences in seasonality of strandings. A strong seasonal pattern was observed in Wales from May through to October, coinciding with the calving season. This, together with a significantly higher proportion of stranded neonates, possibly indicates that Wales may be an important area for calving.

This analysis has provided a baseline against which future monitoring will be measured and demonstrates the value of this globally important, long-term programme of strandings monitoring. It has given us key insights into population structure, mortality and anthropogenic pressures of harbour porpoise in the UK.

For a PDF copy of the report please contact:
Ceri Wyn Morris ceri.morris at naturalresourceswales.gov.uk<mailto:ceri.morris at naturalresourceswales.gov.uk>
Mariel ten Doeschate Marielten.Doeschate at sac.co.uk<mailto:Marielten.Doeschate at sac.co.uk>

Ceri Wyn Morris
Cynghorydd Arbenigol Morol: Mamaliaid Môr / Marine Specialist Advisor: Marine Mammals
Tîm Cyngor Morol Cymru Gyfan / Marine All Wales Advice Team
Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru / Natural Resources Wales
0300 065 4913 / 07766248402
Maes y Ffynnon, Bangor,
Wales, UK

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