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A spatial toolbox for the evaluation of humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) bycatch in northern Peru.

Marine megafaunal bycatch, the accidental mortality and injury of non-target species, has been recognized since the 1970s as a major factor impacting marine mammal populations and their recovery. In this proposal, we outline an innovative and iterative approach that utilizes an open source GIS toolbox to conduct a spatially and temporally explicit bycatch risk assessment for humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) and leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea). Our area of interest is centered on two fishing villages in northern Peru: Mancora and Cancas. ByRA is a flexible, transferable tool to identify gaps in research and support spatial planning and decision-making to address marine megafaunal bycatch.

Current Funders

Research Questions

  • Where is humpback whale and leatherback turtle habitat in relation to artisanal, SSF?

  • When and where have previous bycatch interactions occurred?

  • What fishing gears are most destructive to humpback whales and leatherback turtles?

  • What are the stakeholder perceptions of humpback whales and leatherback turtles?

  • What are possible community solutions to the humpback whale and leatherback turtle bycatch based on ByRA outputs?

NOAA Fisheries


  1. Participatory mapping and fishermen interviews

  2. Species distribution model

  3. Bycatch risk assessment (ByRA) tool 

  4. Present maps and risk plots

  5. Synthesize model outputs into management recommendations

NOAA Fisheries


Research provides a deeper understanding of small-scale fishery practices, attitudes, and possible approaches to bycatch mitigation in the region of Mancora and Cancas.

​​​​​The research will provide estimate of previous bycatch numbers, causes to bycatch, and perceptions towards humpback whales and leatherback turtles. 

NOAA Fisheries

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