06 June 2013

Talking with an artisanal fisherman

Yesterday Silvia spent a couple of hours talking with Iannis, an artisanal fisherman from Galaxidi, Greece. Silvia made a formal interview based on our usual questionnaire, but Iannis was so eager to share information that he reported much more.

Fishermen like Iannis know a lot about the local marine ecosystem. Iannis reported that bottlenose dolphins range far and wide, in and out of the Gulf of Corinth (as found through long-term photo-identification studies: download our article HERE). He knows that striped dolphins are found offshore in large groups, and there is a single Risso's dolphin living in the Gulf.

He accurately described the reasons why bottlenose dolphins feed in the proximity of fish farms, and what kind of prey they can find there. He said he can recognize some individuals by their body features, mentioning one animal we often see: a female with abnormal flukes.

He told Silvia how hard it is to make a living out of artisanal fishing, dealing with bad weather, the high cost of fuel and gear damage caused by bottlenose dolphins. Iannis added that dolphins are a problem, but he would never kill or harm one.

Then he asked whether acoustic deterrent devices may be a solution, and Silvia explained what other fishermen in Greece and Italy normally report after having tried them (i.e. that these devices end up working as dinner bells).

Overall, it is exciting to merge our experience of marine biologists with that of fishermen – who often come to a similar understanding through a completely different path.

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