Abstract: Fisheries–pinniped interactions are a major issue that threatens pinniped conservation and the fishing economy. Pinnipeds can get entangled in fishing gear, while fishermen may lose or have part of their catch and gear damaged. This study analyzed the perceptions of fishermen who work around five islands with important colonies of pinnipeds in the Pacific Ocean west of the Baja California Peninsula, Mexico. This is an area that, despite its high diversity of marine mammals, has very few studies regarding their interactions with fisheries. Interviews with fishermen were carried out to estimate interactions, and a survey of entanglement rates of pinnipeds was conducted. The results showed that 65.7% of fishermen perceived the California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) as the species that interferes most often with their work. This species was entangled more frequently in the fisheries of bony fish that used lines and gillnets than invertebrate fisheries that used traps and direct capture. The Pacific harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardii) was also mentioned as a source of interference, albeit on a lesser scale. Pinniped interactions did not seem to have a significant economic impact because the frequency in invertebrate fisheries was low, and these fisheries provided most of the income. However, interaction with lobster traps has the potential to grow as seen in other regions. Of the four species of pinnipeds that were included in this survey, only California sea lions were found with signs of entanglement from gillnets, although these were less than 1% of the total counted animals of this species on every island. Perhaps due to the good health of the ecosystem, conflicts between fishermen and pinnipeds in this region are lower than in other parts of the world. This study enables the conflict between fishermen and pinnipeds to be put in the context of the trajectory of impact on marine ecosystems.
Key Words: California sea lion, Zalophus californianus, ecosystem-based management, fishing cooperatives, food webs, interaction with fisheries, Pacific harbor seal, Phoca vitulina richardii, marine mammal conservation
Page Numbers: 609-622