Bycatch, Bushmeat, The Gambia, Senegal, Guinea Bissau, fisheries, traditional knowledge, Interview surveys, cultural value, Perceptions
The extent to which bycatch in artisanal fisheries impacts cetacean populations in West Africa is poorly understood. Between 2007 and 2012, 474 interviews were carried out in The Gambia, Senegal and Guinea-Bissau to collect local fishers’ knowledge on rates of bycatch, local uses for bycaught animals and any cultural significance attached to cetaceans. At least a quarter of respondents in each country stated that they had accidentally caught a dolphin at least once, and greater proportions of interviewees stated that other fishers sometimes caught dolphins. Bycaught animals were usually distributed amongst the community as food, but the meat and oil of dolphins were also used to treat various ailments. There did not appear to be a sizeable market for the sale of dolphin meat. The continued depletion of fish stocks in this region may place more pressure on coastal communities to rely on cetaceans as a food source.