Interactions of Marine Protected Species with Artisinal Fishers in the Parque Natural do Sudoeste Aletejano e Costa Vicentina (PNSACV) and Adjacent Classified Areas (SPAs and SACs)
The Natura 2000 Network is the world’s largest coordinated network of protected areas. The PNSACV is part of the 168 protected sites established under the Natura 2000 Network in Portugal. Direct interactions between large marine vertebrates, such as sea turtles, cetaceans and seabirds and the world fisheries are very common and can be a serious threat to many populations. Interviews were conducted between September and December of 2018 to gather information on the fishing fleet operating in the park, the presence of marine protected species (MPS) and the eventual conflicts between the marine life and the fisheries. The majority of the fishers interviewed operating in the park reported to use bottom set nets (38.7%), the rest operated pots and traps (18.7%), longlines (16%) and purse seine (6.7%). From all the fishermen interviewed (n=75), one fifth (20%) reported to operate polyvalent boats. The most sighted species in the PNSACV were the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), the common dolphin (Delphinus delphis), the yellow-legged gull (Larus michahellis) and the northern gannet (Morus bassanus). All the fishermen interviewed reported to have some kind of interaction with the MPS studied, being the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), the common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) and the northern gannet (Morus bassanus) reported as the most interactive species. Although interactions do not seem to have a significant economic impact to the fishermen, some relevant bycatch events of some species in specific gears (e.g bottlenose dolphins and northern gannet in bottom set nets, common dolphins and yellow-legged gull in purse seine) were observed. This is a consequence of the obvious overlap between their distribution range and the more frequently used fishing grounds and arises some awareness on continuing efforts to monitor closely the impact of coastal fisheries on the mortality of marine protected species.