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Acoustic Deterrent Devices

Whenever marine mammals and fisheries interact, conflicts arise


resulting in damage of fishing gear/aquaculture nets or by catch of the
animals (NSSG, 2!"# $hese interactions may be intentional from both
sides, or incidental# %ver since the &'()s (Anderson et al#, &'!(, *ate et al#,
&'(!" various measures have attem+ted to deter marine mammals from
aquaculture o+erations# Acoustic Deterrent Devices (ADD)s" have been
categorised under various names including Acoustic ,arassment Devices or
+ingers (-./A*, 2&", but for here, 0e 0ill refer to all, as ADD)s 1 a
submerged, acoustical device to deter marine mammals from human related
activities#
%ffectiveness of Acoustic Deterrent Devices#
ADD)s most li2ely affect s+ecies that have sensitive hearing at the
+articular frequencies emitted by each device, and since each device is
designed 0ith a different frequency range, it is hard to ma2e a general
conclusion about their effectiveness (Gordon et al, 22"# $here is a large and
meaningful difference bet0een +ingers and A,Ds not only in terms of their
+o0er out+ut, but also in the 0ays they are de+loyed (-./A*, 2&" again
ma2ing generali3ations very hard# G4t3 et al (2&5" revie0ed the fe0
e6+eriments +erformed 0ith commercial ADD)s, concluding that their
efficiency ranges from +oor to moderate 0ith a fe0 e6ce+tions# -ndirect
information obtained by a survey study in Scotland sho0ed only 257 of fish
farmers found the +ingers very effective, 87 re+orted moderate, &87
re+orted +oor and !7 re+orted little efficiency (9uic2 et al# 2:"# $he
+roblem in most studies, is habituation by the animals, 0ithin a time frame of
a fe0 days to years (G4t3 et al, 2&5"# ADD)s dis+lay a short term success
rate because as time +asses the animals learn to associate the stimulus 0ith
fishery resources, the so called ;dinner bell effect) (<efferson et al, &''=,
.ronin et al, 2&5"#
>ingers in fisheries sho0 some +romising results (?raus et al &''!, @arlo0 et
al 25, ,ardy et al 2&2, Graham et al 2'" than in aquaculture sites
(.ronin et al 2&5"# .arrera et al (2&&" found that the bycatch of Delphinus
delphis, 0as 87 lo0er in sets 0ith 5 +ingers, but this reduced bycatch
0as not the same for all s+ecies studied# -n addition there 0as no observed
habituation, ho0ever de+loyment of ADD)s at aquaculture facilities is
essentially +ermanent or constant, 0hile de+loyment of +ingers in fishing gear
is usually s+oradic and un+redictable (<ohnston et al, &''(", +robably leading
to habituation more easily# Another basic, behavioral reason that ADD)s may
not be com+letely effective on seals feeding from aquaculture sites is that they
sim+ly learn to 2ee+ their head above the 0ater (Aur2 et al, 2"#
Negative -m+acts of Acoustic Deterrent Devices#
@ecause of the high frequencies emitted by ADD)s, there is serious
concern of un0anted im+lications to marine mammals, de+ending both on the
intensity of the device and each s+ecies +articular hearing sensitivity# .ertain
ty+es of ADD)s are not recommended anymore in .anada, and fishers that
bought them have been re imbursed (Nash et al, 2"# Barious studies have
sho0n the e6clusion of certain endangered odontocetes, from their natural
feeding grounds, 0hich may or may not be direct targets of the +ingers (G4t3
et al, 2&5, Northridge et al 2&, Gordon et al, 22, *orton et al, 22"#
Strong concerns have been raised about the +ossibility of hearing damage u+on
the animals, 0hich 0ill in itself ma2e the ADD)s ineffective (G4t3 et al 2&5,
Wursig et al 22, Gordon et al, 22"# Cinally, mas2ing of natural sounds
+revents animals from assessing +redation ris2s, reduction of communication
s+ace, an6iety and echolocation overla+ (G4t3 et al 2&5, Scha2ner et al, 2&5,
Wur3ig, 22"#
Suggested im+rovements and further research#
$he success of +ingers on gill nets, contrasts the uneffectiveness of
ADD)s in fish farms, illustrating the im+ortance of motivation in aversion (G4t3
et al 2&, Scha2ner et al, 2&5", consequently suggesting the need for
further research in the behavioral field of marine mammals, along 0ith
detailed as+ects of their de+radation behavior (Northridge et al, 2&"#
Scha2ner et al (2&5" suggest the use of threatening or +ainful stimuli, in
order to quic2ly condition the animal a0ay from a +rotected resource# Since
ADD)s do not come chea+, requiring large funds for acquisition and
continuous maintenance in order to be moderately effective (Northridge et al,
2&" alongside their +roven negative effects on 0ildlife and doubtful
effectiveness, it 0ould be useful to e6+lore alternate anti de+radation
techniques, li2e +hysical e6clusion by e6ternal reinforced nets (*DC-, 2'",
or better management tactics of aquaculturists (Northridge et al, 2&"# *any
studies have sho0n that direct 2illings are common (*DC- 2', Northridge et
al, 2&, Wur3ig et al, 22", but against the la0 both in the ES under the
amendment of the *arine *ammal >rotection Act and in the %E Wildlife
Fegislation# $his radical action and other unsuccessful methods to minimi3e
de+radation have been develo+ed mostly by fishermen or fish1farmers#
Governments and science have been too slo0 or un0illing in the develo+ment
of mitigitation measures to reduce damage and economic loss to fisheries and
fish farms 0ith the alongside mortality of by1catch or rogue seals# -t is also
vital to study seal haul out sites before any attem+t of an aquaculture
installation, as it has been sho0n that a clear relationshi+ e6ists in the e6tent
of +inni+ed1related +roblems and distance of facilities from +referred haul1out
or mating/+u++ing sites of the +redators (>emberton et al, &''5"#
Cinal conclusion#
As our a++etite for fish increases, so does our need for utili3ation of
ever e6+anding areas to harbour various ty+es of aquaculture around coastal
areas 0hich are inhabited by many fragile s+ecies of marine mammals, thus
coming in direct com+etition for vital s+ace and food# Since the economic
significance of seal de+radation has not been officially quantified nor has it
been investigated scientifically (Gordon et al 22", besides an attem+t by
Nash et al (2" for the >acific North0est of America, it is vital to quantify the
actual de+radation si3e and determine if it constitutes for a real or sus+ected
economic loss# .arter et al (2&" states that the conclusion that seals are a
maGor im+act on local salmon stoc2s, in Scotland, is based on anecdotal
evidence or casual observation and they found that seal +redation as a cause
of mortality on large salmon in estuaries, is a++arently an order of magnitude
less im+ortant than mortality caused by rod fisheries# -n addition, Northridge et
al (2&" in Scotland, found that seal de+radation has declined over the +ast
ten years due to im+roved management measures i#e# net tentioning, mortality
removal, lo0er stoc2ing densities and seal blinds# -t 0ould be un0ise to
intentionally add more noise +ollution in already +olluted, fragile marine
environment, in order to minimise unsubstantiated damage by +redators in
fish farms, 0hen more +ractical +hysical barriers can 2ee+ a0ay individual,
rogue seals, 0ho +ose a threat# Cinally, a recent %E /egulation (%.
(&2/2:" requires the reduction of cetacean by1catch through the use of
ADD)s for boats over &2m# $his could mean that under0ater noise +ollution
from ADD)s is already mas2ing the *editerranean, causing un2no0n damage
to sensitive hearing marine mammals# $here is no substantiated reason to
add to this from ever increasing aquaculture sites and their ne0ly installed
ADD)s#
/eferencesH
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8,&'12:#
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Jdinner bellJ +ro+erties of acoustic +ingers in a gillnet fishery# *arine
$echnology Society <ournal 45(5)H!1&'#
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