Predator playback is a type of Acoustic Deterrent Device (ADD), in which audio recordings of a wildlife species in distress, or of its predator, are played to deter species from nearing fishing gear. For example, porpoises and pinnipeds have at times shown immediate avoidance responses to audio recordings of killer whales.
A 1996 review concluded this technique to be largely ineffective at reducing marine mammal interactions with fishing gear. Audio recordings of killer whales were not specific to transient whales hunting, and the authors suggest that marine mammals may have sophisticated abilities to assess the danger posed by certain predator noises. They also suggest that other sensory means, besides hearing, may be used to detect predators, thus audio recordings alone are insufficient.
A key challenge with this technique – along with other ADDs – is that marine mammals may quickly habituate to the noise and no longer be deterred by it. Predatory playback may also affect the behaviour of fish, affecting target catch.
The FAO (2018) have stressed Acoustic Deterrent Devices should not be considered ‘go-to’ mitigation measures or a ‘quick fix’, as effectiveness varies from fishery to fishery, species to species, and spatially and temporally, and tend to reduce but not eliminate bycatch.
This page was last updated on 12.02.21.
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