Do commercial fisheries display optimal foraging? The case of longline fishers in competition with odontocetes Academic Article uri icon


  • Depredation in longline fisheries by odontocete whales is a worldwide growing issue, having substantial socioeconomic consequences for fishers as well as conservation implications for both fish resources and the depredating odontocete populations. An example of this is the demersal longline fishery operating around the Crozet Archipelago and Kerguelen Island, southern Indian Ocean, where killer whales (Orcinus orca) and sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) depredate hooked Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides). It is of great interest to better understand relationships of this modern fishery with its environment. Thus, we examined the factors influencing the decision-making process of fishers facing such competition while operating on a patch. Using optimal foraging theory as the underlying hypothesis, we determined that the probability captains left an area decreases with increasing fishing success, whereas in presence of competition from odontocete whales, it increases. Our study provides strong support that fishers behave as optimal foragers in this specific fishery. Considering that captains are optimal foragers and thus aim at maximizing the exploitation of the resources, we highlight possible risks for the long-term sustainability of the local ecosystems.

publication date

  • June 2018