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Research Profile | Adrianna Proetta | Marine Science & Climate Change

My research project will analyse the effects of recreational fishing activities on dolphins in Gibraltarian waters.
28th July 2021
Adrianna, one of our Master in Marine Science and Climate Change students, spoke to us about her research project on the effects of recreational fishing activities on dolphins in Gibraltarian waters.

Describe your MSc project?

The main aims of my research project are to analyse the effects of recreational fishing activities on dolphins in Gibraltarian waters and analyse recreational fishermen behaviour and compliance towards fishing and cetacean protection laws. This data is collected via observational surveys carried out on Dolphin Adventure boats.
The second part of the project will also look at public perceptions, attitudes and awareness on fishing activities and their effects on cetaceans, looking specifically at certain harmful fishing techniques such as tuna popping. This will be carried out through public surveys using Survey Monkey.

What type of research has it involved and what skills have you learned?

The project involves two different types of research. The first part involves observational surveys carried out on whale-watching boats, where data on fishermen behaviour and compliance towards fishing laws is collected. The second type of research involves studying public perceptions, attitudes and awareness via online public surveys.

Were there any partners/stakeholders on your project?

The University of Gibraltar gave be the opportunity to have the Government Department of Environment as a stakeholder. I also have the pleasure of working with MMIRC, an organization that aims to drive social and cultural change toward healthy habitats for marine life through research and education. Additionally, Dolphin Adventure have helped me with my data collection.

Why should the public know about this topic?

As well as being the home to a variety of cetacean species, the Straits of Gibraltar is a recreational fishing hotspot, and fishery impacts are one of the most reported threats worldwide for cetaceans. Previous studies have shown multiple incidences of cetacean stranding and injuries caused by fishing activities in the Gibraltar-Algeciras Bay and BGTW. This is often due to specific tuna fishing techniques commonly used in the Straits of Gibraltar known as “popping”. The purpose of this study is to research the effects of recreational fishing activities on common, striped and bottlenose dolphins and how fishermen behave towards these with regards to the cetacean protocol, as well as improving our understanding on awareness, perceptions and attitudes of the public towards fishing impacts on cetaceans and dolphin injuries caused by harmful fishing techniques. Increasing public awareness on these issues can aid in the conservation of dolphins and the progression towards sustainable fishing in Gibraltar.

What is the wider impact of your research?

Improved understanding of the types and intensities of fishing effects on dolphins in BGTW can lead to more appropriate management plans. The general public will also gain knowledge on fishing impacts on dolphins in BGTW and what goes behind obtaining the fish that they eat. Raising general public awareness on illegal fishing activities can lead to public engagement which can facilitate the enforcement of conservation laws.
  • MSc

    Master in Marine Science & Climate Change

    Designed and delivered by expert academics and scientists, this full or part-time interdisciplinary programme blends theoretical study with practical, field-based work. You will cover specialist subject areas and gain the skills required to tackle the complex issues associated with the sustainable development of marine ecosystems.[...]

    1 Year

    No Placement option

    Full Time

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