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Effects of dolphin group type, percent coverage, and fleet size on estimates of annual dolphin mortality derived from 1987 U.S. tuna-vessel observer data


Effects of dolphin group type, percent coverage, and fleet size on estimates of annual dolphin mortality derived from 1987 U.S. tuna-vessel observer data



U S National Marine Fisheries Service Fishery Bulletin 91(4): 628-640



Amendments enacted in 1988 to the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, coupled with changes during the 1980's in the composition of the international purse-seine fleet fishing "on dolphin" for yellowfin tuna in the eastern tropical Pacific (ETP), motivated a simulation experiment to assess the effects of fleet size and observer coverage level on estimates of cumulative annual mortality for dolphin stocks, where data quality differed greatly between stocks. Results from this simulation study provided a basis for subsequent U.S. legislation regarding criteria for comparing dolphin mortality rates of U.S. vs. non-U.S. fleets fishing in the ETP, pursuant to regulations governing import of tuna from this area. Accuracy and precision of mortality estimates were influenced very strongly by data quality (dolphin group type) and moderately strongly by fleet size and level of observer coverage. Because neither fleet size nor dolphin group type can be controlled by a sampling program, desired levels of accuracy and precision in estimates of dolphin mortality can be achieved only by manipulating the level of observer coverage. The unexpectedly strong effect of dolphin group type implies that to protect all groups equally, observer levels should be chosen to accommodate the dolphin group type exhibiting the poorest-quality data.

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