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The amount of commercial fishing in Israel endangers the dolphin population

"Off the coast of Israel in the Mediterranean Sea there is a stable and permanent population of dolphins and in every decision concerning the sea we must consider them as well," says Dr. Aviad Sheinin from the University of Haifa who conducted the study.

A dolphin and a baby dolphin in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Photo: Haifa University
A dolphin and a baby dolphin in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Photo: Haifa University
The amount of fish caught by Israel's commercial fishing fleet in the Mediterranean endangers the dolphin population in Israel, according to a new study conducted in the Department of Marine Civilizations at the University of Haifa. "Unfortunately, we live mainly along the coast and do not consider our neighbors to the west," noted researcher Dr. Aviad Sheinin.

The study, conducted under the direction of Prof. Ehud Shafnir and Dr. Danny Kerem, sought to examine the balance of power between the two "super predators" of the fish off the coast of Israel in the Mediterranean - the common dolphin and the trawling fleet, which is the main commercial fishing fleet operating in Israel (this is fishing with the help of a net dragged on the bottom of the sea and pulled by the ship). These two marine predators capture ground fish and the amount of fish they consume is similar, so it was important to examine the nature of the competition between them.

The commercial trawler is mainly targeting the ground fish families such as the barbony, the bacula and the sole which are expensive and sought after fish. From the data of the Fisheries Division at the Ministry of Agriculture, it appears that over the years, the amount of ground fish of this fleet is greater than the amount that the environment naturally provides, so the meaning is that there was a decrease in the amount of ground fish between the years 1949-2006. However, a decrease in the amount of groundfish is not necessarily a direct harm to the dolphin, since its diet may consist of other types of fish.

For this purpose, the researcher examined the stomach contents of 26 dolphins that died and came ashore or were captured by mistake. He also examined the behavior of the living dolphins during 232 marine surveys that covered more than 3000 km between Hadera and Palmahim. The stomach contents of the dolphins contained mostly non-commercial fish, indicating that the dolphins do not compete directly with the commercial fishing fleet for these fish and that, presumably, human fishing does not directly affect the dolphins' diet.

The behavior of the dolphins in the sea shows a completely different picture. According to Dr. Scheinin, most of the dolphins were observed in the vicinity of the fishing vessels, with the chance of spotting a pod of dolphins near a trawler 10 times greater than the chance of spotting it in the open sea. The reason for this is that the trawler serves as a "feeding station" for the dolphins who do not feed on the prestigious fish in the spoils, but on the easy-to-get fish that swim around the ship. "The problem is that this kind of hunting is dangerous for the dolphin. Of the eight dolphins that die on average per year off the coast of Israel, about four die because they were accidentally caught in the nets of the trawler fleet. Since the dolphin's high intelligence is known from many studies, it is clear that the dolphins understand the danger, but they probably have no choice because the other sources of food are scarce", explained Dr. Sheinin.

According to him, the figure that further strengthens the dolphin's lack of choice comes from the dolphins - or more precisely from the lactating dolphins that need a larger amount of food than usual. Despite the great danger to the less experienced young dolphins near the net, all suckling dolphins were observed near the trawlers with high frequency, indicating that they were unable to obtain sufficient food elsewhere.

Another reinforcement of the Israeli dolphins' food plight is given by the fact that they are busy most of the time looking for food, this is compared to dolphins in other parts of the world who are more busy with social activities.

The present study outlines for the first time the characteristics of the dolphins off the coast of the Israeli Mediterranean Sea. This population is stable and counts at any given moment about 350 dolphins, which move along the entire length of the beaches. Of these, the researchers know personally and by name 150 dolphins, and this according to the dorsal fin which is like their fingerprint. Out of these 150, 40 are observed repeatedly and they are the ones who live permanently off the coast of Israel. "Off the coast of Israel there is a stable population of dolphins and in every decision concerning the sea we must consider them as well. In order to preserve this population, we must declare significant marine nature reserves, regulate fishing, and stop polluting the sea. Unfortunately, our consideration of them is very little", concluded Dr. Sheinin.

The Ministry of Agriculture reduces the number of fishing boats on the Mediterranean coast from 500 to 250

9 תגובות

  1. In my opinion, what causes damage to the fish is a combination of several things such as global warming, unsupervised fishing, water pollution by factories, and more. We must stop this for the sake of our children Gali Gal Sailing Club

  2. In reformed countries there is a ban or restriction on "trawl fishing" (fishing by dragging nets on the bottom),
    A fisherman who causes damage to the marine environment,
    In reformed countries, marine reserves are declared to protect fish and mammals,
    In reformed countries there is a limit on the quantities and types of fish that are allowed to be caught,
    In reformed countries it is forbidden to pollute the sea with sewage or solid waste,
    Therefore, if our country is "corrected"...?
    It is mandatory to contain and enforce laws and regulations that prevent damage to the marine environment.

  3. Potato The blocked keywords are meant to ensure that I read certain potentially problematic comments before they are posted to avoid unnecessary heated arguments on personal grounds.

  4. Yomp Baumgarten
    It is not the stomach but because of the highest intelligence of the dolphins. They have an advantage because they are smart and not Jewish.

  5. The hunted fish reach the crotch and the crotch of the author of the article. My belly and his is better than the belly of the dolphins Yerom Hodam.

  6. The study presented the problem, but what are the suggestions for solving the problem? I'm sure that a fishing ban will only exacerbate the "food crisis" since their main source of food is out of the equation.

  7. Adi - the cats you mean are domesticated cats in contrast to the wild cat family that is on the brink of extinction in Israel if not beyond, if you mean that dolphins should not be taken into account be direct

  8. From the article I understand that dolphins should be hunted proportionally to the amount of fishing 🙂

    In addition to this, the conclusion that the dolphins are in distress because they hang out near fishing nets is unfounded.
    You can equally say that the cat population in Israel is in distress because they hang around garbage cans and don't hunt mice.
    Every animal will try to get the easiest food source possible - this does not indicate any distress.
    It is much easier for dolphins to catch fish that escape from nets while they are being raised than to hunt for themselves. For them it's almost a free meal.

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