[MARMAM] Marine mammals foraging around fishing gear or preying on fishing catch and bait: it may not be 'depredation'

Giovanni Bearzi giovanni.bearzi at gmail.com
Wed Sep 28 03:09:00 PDT 2022

A new essay on marine mammal 'depredation' has just been published in
the ICES Journal of Marine Science (free download):
Bearzi G, Reeves RR (2022) Marine mammals foraging around fishing gear
or preying on fishing catch and bait: it may not be 'depredation'.
ICES Journal of Marine Science, fsac173.
ABSTRACT — Some populations of marine mammals (particularly odontocete
cetaceans, and pinnipeds) have responded to the expansion of fisheries
by modifying their behaviour to take advantage of the foraging
opportunities provided by fishing. This has led to interactions that
include forms of 'depredation', referring to the removal of, or damage
to, marketable organisms as well as bait from fishing gear. The
current scientific and technical usage of depredate or depredation
appears inconsistent with some of the meanings found in dictionaries,
such as to plunder (typically using force), pillage, ravage, lay
waste, despoil, destroy, commit waste, or ransack. We suggest that the
use of 'depredation' when referring to marine mammal behaviour could
strengthen misperception and misunderstanding, hardening notions that
they are unfairly taking or destroying what is ours. Though most
contemporary researchers do not mean to imply that predators are
'stealing our fish', continued reference to the mammals’ behaviour as
depredation may reinforce, at least in some minds, the belief that
fish and other marine resources 'belong' only to humans. Alternative
wording would help to prevent ambiguity in communications, especially
outside the scientific community, and preserve recognition of the
ecological roles that large marine predators play.
You are welcome to contact the first author to request a pdf copy (or
share your thoughts on the essay):
Giovanni Bearzi <giovanni.bearzi at gmail.com>

More information about the MARMAM mailing list