Fisheries interview surveys underway in Guinea with an aim to improve conservation of the Atlantic humpback dolphin

Fisheries interview surveys underway in Guinea with an aim to improve conservation of the Atlantic humpback dolphin

Biotope Guinea team members interview a fisherman in the Forecariah region of Guinea.

In February 2023, a collaborative team led by Biotope Guinea undertook the first full-scale fisheries surveys in five fish landing sites in the prefecture of Forécariah.  The interview surveys are part of a wider collaborative project to improve the knowledge and conservation of the Critically Endangered Atlantic humpback dolphin (Sousa teuszii) in Guinea. This project is implemented jointly by Biotope and CCAHD, supported by Mubadala and its asset GAC and managed by the Mohamed Bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund.

Boat surveys were conducted in June and November 2022, with a third survey planned in June 2023.  The interview surveys will complement the data collected during boat surveys to provide more insight into the distribution and threats to Sousa teuszii and other cetaceans in Guinea, as well as the threats to their survival.  The project uses a questionnaire and methodology developed jointly with the CCAHD regional fisheries interview project, which is funded by the Society for Marine Mammalogy and is being implemented in six additional Sousa teuszii range countries.  Synergy between the Guinea project and the regional project has been optimized: by adapting materials and building on advice provided by the international team of experts involved in the regional project, the Guinea team created training and support materials that can now be used throughout the Sousa teuszii range.  The Guinea interview team lead, Pauline Cueto, helped to deliver a half-day training course for regional project partners, including a follow-up training session on the use of the Kobo Collect App to support interview surveys.

After extensive classroom and field-based training and trials, in February a team of 8 sociologists conducted interviews with 202 fishermen.  Separate interviews were also held with other stakeholders involved in fishing and marine and coastal activities, including women who smoke and sell fish, local authorities, such as port chiefs and navy commanders and local industry representatives. The team will now undertake a systematic analysis of the collected data.  While many fishers find it difficult to distinguish between Sousa teuszii and other dolphin species, the interviews provided indications that the species is likely to be present in this southern region of Guinea – incentive to conduct some exploratory boat surveys in the area. The next interview surveys are planned to take place in fish landing sites around the capital of Conakry and Lost Islands as well as the northern Port of Kamsar and the nearby Tristao Islands.  Watch this space for more updates!

Biotope Guinea interview survey team lead, Pauline Cueto helps to lead the French language training for the regional CCAHD fisheries interview project, involving participants from Congo, Senegal, Gabon, and Cameroon.

An interview with a fisherman in Sourinéné (Forécariah, February 2023). The used the Kobo Collect mobile application on his phone to complete the questionnaire, as well as printed maps and illustrations developed in collaboration with other CCAHD partners.

A large mesh cotton gill net on Matakang beach (February 2023). These nets are still used in some areas, but increasingly are being replaced by smaller mesh plastic monofilament nets, which pose a greater bycatch risk to non-target species like dolphins and turtles, as well as juvenile fish, threatening the sustainability of the fisheries.