Document presented to the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission
Nigeria, Bycatch, fisheries, threats, IUU fishing, Platforms of opportunity, Megaptera novaeangliae, Marine mammal observers
Widespread distribution and occurrence of the two major cetaceans (whale and dolphins) have been observed in the Nigerian coastal waters. They have been frequently sighted by small scale artisanal and industrial fishermen, marine mammals observers (MMO) and other scientists from their various crafts or platforms (canoes or vessels) in the near shore coastal waters or deep sea (> 2500m). In one of the few quantitative reports, 277 sightings were recorded between November 2007 and December 2009 and comprised of 187 (68%) for whales and 88 (32%) for dolphins. The herds included both adult and young calves. The movements were sometimes associated or identified with various activities including breathing/blowing of water, feeding (mainly at night), bow riding and others. There was no record of directed catch and were rarely caught or entangled in the nets. The physico-chemical parameters were within tolerable limits to support the survival of cetaceans and other living organisms. However in a trawl fishing survey conducted in 2009, large volume of non biodegradable solid waste was observed up to 100m depth. Conservation of the resources and the maintenance of biological diversity are paramount and activities on ecosystem approach to fisheries (EAF) involving all stakeholders have commenced. It is also very important to promote regional and international collaboration and cooperation in order to address issues such as poaching and illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing.