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4th January, 2017

Occurrence and impact of interactions between small-scale fisheries and predators, with focus on Mediterranean monk seals (Monachus monachus Hermann 1779), around Lipsi Island complex, Aegean Sea, Greece

Recent Publications

Non-open access journalsNoelia Ríos, Matija Drakulic, Iosu Paradinasb, Anastasia Milliou, Ruth Cox. 2017. Occurrence and impact of interactions between small-scale fisheries and predators, with focus on Mediterranean monk seals (Monachus monachus Hermann 1779), around Lipsi Island complex, Aegean Sea, Greece. Fisheries Research 187: 1-10. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fishres.2016.10.013


Antagonistic interaction between Mediterranean marine mammals, including the endangered monk seal (Monachus monachus), and small-scale fisheries is a growing problem in the Aegean Sea. Effective management measures are needed to ensure both the survival of the monk seal population, and its coexistence with the small-scale fisheries. In this study, data from 371 fishing journeys by 8 different boats was collected between March and November 2014. Evidence of depredation by monk seals was recorded in 19.1% of fishing journeys, by cetaceans in 5%, and by other predators in 16.5%. Analysis of landings data showed that gear and depth were the variables most likely to influence the occurrence of depredation. There was a significant decrease in the catch per unit effort (CPUE) of four of the nine targeted fish species when depredation by monk seals occurred. The total cost of monk seal depredation was estimated to be 21.33% of the mean annual income of fishermen in the Aegean Sea. We discuss how the implementation of marine protected areas and the use of specific fishing gear could reduce the frequency of interactions, and thus mitigate the loss experienced by the fisheries as well as contribute to the conservation of an endangered species.

11th February, 2015

Croatian monk seal Adriana may have been shot twice during her lifetime

Further examination of the body of female Mediterranean monk seal Adriana, who died on 25 August 2014 in Croatia, has revealed that she was shot at twice, in all probability many years earlier, according to press reports and Jasna Antolović of Croatia’s Mediterranean Monk Seal Group.

Pellets of different diameter were found embedded in her skin around the head and the lower body respectively. The entry points of the pellets were no longer detectable on the skin’s surface. Researchers deduce that two guns were involved, in what are presumed to have been attacks on two separate occasions. The police are to undertake further enquiries, in liaison with the State Prosecutor’s Office. Read more: (in Croatian): Sredozemna medvjedica u tijelu imala 62 zrna sačme!

14th May, 2012

DLNR, NOAA urge reporting of monk seal incidents

News Release, Department of Land and Natural Resources, Hawaii, 11 May 2012

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) and NOAA Fisheries announced this week that since March 2012, NOAA Fisheries, DLNR, and partners have responded to five seal hooking incidents involving four individual Hawaiian monk seals. Three of these responses are still in progress.

NOAA and DLNR would like to take this opportunity to remind fishermen that monk seal deaths and injuries from fishing interactions can often be prevented, and adverse impacts to fishermen and seals can be reduced through early reporting of incidents.

“Monk seals are a vital part of Hawai‘i’s marine and cultural environment,” said William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR Chairperson. “While DLNR and NOAA seek to address all adverse impacts on Hawaiian monk seals, we want to acknowledge the cooperation of Hawai‘i fishermen and emphasize that we do not consider fishing interactions in the main Hawaiian Islands to currently pose a major threat to monk seal recovery.”

NOAA Fisheries Service data indicate that a total of 77 hooking incidents have been reported over the past 10 years, with at total of nine incidents in 2011 and eight incidents reported thus far in 2012 (including the five incidents discussed here). [More]

Source: DLNR, NOAA ask for fishermen’s kokua in reporting monk seal hooking or entanglements, News Release, Department of Land and Natural Resources, Hawaii, 11 May 2012 (PDF).

13th May, 2012

Vancouver Aquarium veterinarian assists in monk seal surgery

Media Watch, Vancouver Aquarium, 11 May 2012

Dr. Haulena gives endangered monk seal anaesthesia for surgical procedure (NOAA)

Vancouver Aquarium veterinarian, Dr. Martin Haulena, received an emergency call on May 9 to fly to Hawaii to help support a local rescue effort.

He participated in two successful procedures to remove accidentally-ingested fishing hooks from endangered monk seals on May 10.

One of the monk seals required surgery to remove the hook, which was lodged deep in the esophagus near the opening to the stomach. Dr. Haulena performed the anesthesia and collaborated with Dr. Robert Braun and veterinarians at the Honolulu Zoo to remove the hook. The seal is in recovery and rehabilitation is expected to take several days to weeks. [More]

Source: Aquarium veterinarian helps save monk seals, Vancouver Aquarium, 11 May 2012.

31st March, 2012

Monk seal death in Libya

Ibrahem Benamer, Natural Resources and Environmental Science,
Omar Mukhtar University (OMU), El-beida, Libya

On the 25 March in the area of Ain Gazzalla (Northeast Libya near the Egyptian border, 32.23284 N, 23.2848 E) a group of fishermen found a dead female monk seal trapped in their net. The case was reported to the coastguard who in turn informed the National Marine Laboratory. The carcass is now in their possession at the Lab and an autopsy is being arranged during this week.

This event is the only confirmed case of monk seal existence in eastern Libya since Norris 1972 [Norris, W.J.T. 1972. Monk Seals in Libya. Oryx 11: 328-330.], which may indicate that this critically endangered species can still be found in the area or close by, which will support the importance of the area as an MPA.

A report will be issued after the autopsy; meanwhile, pictures taken by the fishermen can be found on Flickr.

18th February, 2012

Monk seal threat to endangered marine turtles

Recent Publications

D. Margaritoulis & S. Touliatou. 2011. Mediterranean monk seals present an ongoing threat for Loggerheads in Zakynthos. Marine Turtle Newsletter 131 (December 2011): 18-23. [PDF 1.4 MB]

[…] During the 1994 nesting season, 8 loggerhead turtles were found dead in the wider area of Laganas Bay with injuries attributed to predation by monk seals. The observed injuries, as well as direct observations of the predation events, suggested that monk seals were attacking loggerheads from below, snapping off the posterior plastral scutes and feeding on the turtle’s entrails (Margaritoulis et al. 1996). This unique behavior, not documented anywhere else in the world (Fertl & Fulling 2007), was thought to have been triggered by depleted levels of local fish resources during the same season (Karavellas 1995). […]

18th August, 2011

Fishermen oppose extra protections for Hawaiian monk seals

Media Watch, Honolulu Civil Beat, 11 August 2011

Hawaiian monk seals and local fishermen haven’t been getting along very well. And fishermen aren’t happy about a proposal to extend a conservation zone around the main Hawaiian islands to further protect the endangered species.

This was the message conveyed to representatives of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration throughout two hours of heated testimony on Thursday at Ala Moana Beach Park.

More than 60 people turned out for the public hearing to discuss the proposal that would expand the critical habitat area for the seals, which have been protected under the Endangered Species Act since 1976. It is illegal to harass or kill the seals. […]

But the plight of the monk seal hasn’t swayed many fishermen, if the testimony at the public hearing is any indication.

“They’re more of a nuisance than anything else right now,” said Brandon Hu. “I fish a lot at night. One of those seals started hiding under my boat. It takes fish from my lines, then my partner’s line. We’re losing fish left and right. We moved three miles down the coast. The monk seal started following us. They are already trained to be looking for our boats for a free handout.”

While only 153 monk seals are believed to be trolling the waters around the main Hawaiian islands, fishermen complained about the economic effects the seals were having on their fishing operations and their concern about the population growing. […]

Source: Fishermen oppose extra protections for Hawaiian monk seals, Honolulu Civil Beat, 11 August 2011

23rd June, 2011

FAO adopts watered down protection measures

The FAO’s General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) adopted a series of recommendations aimed at protecting monk seals from accidental entanglement in fishing gear at its 9-14 May 2011 session in Rome.

Recommendation GFCM/35/2011/5 on Fisheries Measures for the Conservation of the Mediterranean Monk Seal (Monachus monachus) in the GFCM Competence Area calls for Contracting Parties and Cooperating Parties of the Commission (CPCs) to implement the following measures:

— Prohibit fishing vessels from taking on board, transporting or landing monk seals unless required to assist in the rescue of injured individuals, and only then with prior official authorisation.

— Seals encountered entangled in fishing gear must be released unharmed and alive.

— Seals found dead in fishing gear must be brought ashore and the authorities  promptly notified (at the latest upon arrival at port).

— Any incidental take and release must be recorded in the vessel’s logbook, and reported to the relevant authorities for onward notification of the GFCM Secretariat.

— No later than 2015, CPCs should adopt fisheries management measures designed to attain a “very low and close to 0 risk” of incidental take and mortality of monk seals in fishing activities.

— CPCs must provide the GFCM Secretariat with the geographical positions of already known, past and current monk seal caves, with corresponding information on fleets deploying bottom-set nets within a maximum 20 mile range. Preliminary maps and data should be completed by December 2011, and transmitted to the GFCM no later than 31 January 2012. (Access to such potentially sensitive data, the document is at pains to point out, will be restricted.)

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