IATTC Dolphin Workshop

The Antigua Convention, which governs the IATTC, requires that the status of species potentially impacted by tuna fisheries in the eastern Pacific Ocean be monitored. In the tropical zone, this includes the stocks of dolphins found associated with yellowfin tuna. No fishery-independent surveys of dolphin abundance have been conducted since 2006, and therefore there are currently no reliable indicators available for assessing the status of these dolphin populations. This lack of information is problematic because, in spite of the current low levels of reported mortalities in the tuna fishery, the high historical levels of that mortality and the low estimated rates of population increase have resulted in ambiguous estimates of population status.

For this reason, the IATTC hosted a Workshop on Methods for Monitoring the Status of Eastern Tropical Ocean Dolphin Populations, which brought together more than 20 experts in the fields of line-transect surveys and mark-recapture studies, abundance estimation and population modelling, and imaging, tagging, genetics and life history data, to discuss options for developing indices with which to monitor dolphin populations. The goal of the workshop was to identify methods, both conventional and novel, for assessing the status of dolphin stocks.

The workshop was held 18-20 October 2016, in the Pacific Room of the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, located at 8901 La Jolla Shores Drive in La Jolla, California, USA. It included presentations by the IATTC staff on historic and potential data sources, including fisheries data, tagging and genetics data, and survey data; by Stephen Buckland, of the University of St Andrews, Scotland, on data analysis methods, including line-transect and markrecapture; and by André Punt, of the University of Washington, USA, on population assessment modelling methodology. Discussions followed on potential methods for monitoring population status, using not only conventional methodologies but also non-conventional and experimental methodologies that may require future research and development. The agenda and other information are available on the IATTC website.

The format of the workshop consisted of presentations by, and discussions among, the invited participants, with periods for comments and questions by observers.

The Workshop report can be found here.

For more details see http://www.iattc.org/Meetings/Meetings2016/DolphinWorkshop/IATTCDolphinWorkshop2016ENG.htm