Socioeconomics and management of small cetacean bycatch in Ghana

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Samuel K. K. Amponsah
Berchie Asiedu
Andrews Apraku
Lesley Ntim
Pierre Failler
Samuel Henneh
William Amekor
Rachael Ackah
Koen Van Waerebeek


Small cetacean bycatch in artisanal fisheries and deep‐sea fishing operations is a serious and persistent threat to conservation in coastal communities in Ghana. We assessed the bycatch and management of small cetaceans in four coastal communities by administering 73 questionnaires to fishers and recording their catches. Our findings show that dolphin feeding habits, gear attributes and habitat use of targeted finfish species were the main factors driving bycatch of small cetaceans in Ghana. Gear damage and reduced catches were among the effects of bycatch reported by fishers. In addition to direct consumption of small cetacean meat, fishers use them as bait in shark‐fishing activities. Our results suggest the livelihood of over 70% of fishers will be threatened if management measures are implemented. Fishers were unaware of the Wildlife Division that manages small cetaceans in Ghana. We recommended that a co‐management approach between the government and locals should be adopted when developing and implementing measures for the conservation of small cetaceans. A community awareness programme should be carried out to raise awareness about threats facing these species and the importance of conservation.

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