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Local Perceptions and Community-Based Conservation Strategy for Dolphins in Eastern Nigerian Inshore Atlantic

The study assessed impacts of bonga purse seine fishery on dolphin at the Eastern Nigerian Atlantic. In actual sense, the artisanal purse seine fishery in Nigeria is not regulated with implications on threatened aquatic animals one of which is dolphin. As informed by the fishermen at Ibaga, dolphins are not deliberately catch unless they find their way into the net during the process of hauling. However, there are misconceptions on dolphin among the fisher folks some of which further expose them to danger. Majority of the fishermen considered dolphin as enemy because dolphin tends to destroy nets as they struggle to escape from incidental catch thereby causing other fish already caught to escape. Dolphin that is caught in the net is not set free but rather killed and taken to the shore for sale or share to people in the community.

Although some people do not like eating dolphin due to the “foul odour” of their flesh and emotional nature of the animal, however, dolphin is eaten by some people especially after smoking. There are buyers who are ready to buy the killed dolphin when brought to shore. Also, the community heads partook in eating of dolphins. The fishermen also informed that dolphin’s fin is used in production of a particular gum. The most striking part of this study is that dolphin is not considered endanger animal by the fishermen. There is also no traditional/local or formal protective or conservation law against killing of dolphin in the ocean.

From findings of this study, there is need for proper regulation of artisanal purse seine fishing in Nigeria Atlantic water. The regulation should overhaul the entire artisanal fishing activities on the coastal water body including the gears they use and the type of fish they catch and bring to shore. There is urgent need for formulation of conservation law and imposition of restriction against killing of dolphins and other threated aquatic animals. After formulation of such laws, this should be accompanied with proper enforcement with corporation of community leaders. Above all, there is need for wide conservation education targeted at dolphins as well as awareness and sesitisation on the true nature of dolphins to correct the wrong perceptionsof the fishermen. Since dolphins cause damages to nets during incidental catch, there should be an incentive for the fishermen to facilitate repair of such nets. Also, fishermen should be instructed to return any dolphin that are accidentally caught in their nets rather than killing

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