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The effect of acoustic harassment devices on harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) in the Bay of Fundy, Canada


The effect of acoustic harassment devices on harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) in the Bay of Fundy, Canada



Biological Conservation 108(1): 113-118



ISSN/ISBN: 0006-3207

DOI: 10.1016/s0006-3207(02)00099-x

Many salmon aquaculture sites in the Bay of Fundy employ acoustic harassment devices (AHDs) to deter seals from approaching fish pens. These devices may also exclude harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) from important habitat. To determine the effects of AHDs on harbour porpoises an AHD was deployed experimentally in the Bay of Fundy, Canada. Relative porpoise abundance (visual scans) and porpoise movements (tracked by theodolite) were recorded for separate, daily, 2-h periods in the vicinity of either an active (n=9) or inactive (n=7) AHD. Fewer porpoises were sighted during active periods (0.22 [plus or minus] 0.44, mean [plus or minus] SD) than inactive periods (2.91 [plus or minus] 1.29; P [<] 0.05). The mean closest observed approach of porpoises to the AHD during active periods (991 [plus or minus] 302 m) was significantly greater than during inactive periods (364 [plus or minus] 261 m; P [<] 0.01). Porpoise density was therefore reduced in the vicinity of active an AHD. These results should be considered before AHDs are deployed in porpoise habitat.

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Accession: 003967386

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