The PIFIL project led by CNPMEM is a new program to develop a device to limit accidental captures of common dolphins. Photo: CNPMEM

The PIFIL pinger will be attached to the bottom of the boat in an effort to avoid the accidental capture of common dolphins. Photo: CNPMEM

Launched in October 2021, the PIFIL project, led by the CNPMEM, aims to acquire data at sea for the scientific validation of an effective technological solution proven in the field. 

The program is in line with research projects carried out by fishing professionals and scientists. By capitalising on the experiments of the LICADO project initiated in 2019, PIFIL is interested in a promising device for gillnetters: the activation during the spinning operation of new generation acoustic repellents, designed specifically for common dolphins (CETASAVER pincers). The results obtained within the framework of LICADO are encouraging, but larger-scale experimentation is necessary to then be able to assess its effectiveness on the basis of robust statistical data:

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Through their observations, professionals have identified this moment of the fishing action as particularly at risk for various reasons [1] . The acousticians confirmed that the microbubbles created by the ship in its wake could temporarily disrupt the echolocation of marine mammals in the immediate vicinity.

CETASAVER pingers emit a proven and scientifically validated repellent acoustic signal (repellent effect over a maximum of 200 meters, causing repellence in 87% of cases). Each signal is unique to avoid habituation phenomena. The acoustic nuisance in the ecosystem is also limited because it is operated only during the spinning operation.

With the project partners, the CRPMEM and POs on the Atlantic coast as well as AGLIA, OCTECH and Ifremer, the project will make it possible to equip 20 gillnetters in the Bay of Biscay. The shipowners and their crews, volunteers to participate in the project, will carry out the tests and collect the data. A tablet application has also been developed to facilitate the entry and transmission of information.

Once this data has been consolidated in September 2022, a second part of the PIFIL project is planned to equip other ships, continue to collect data and scientifically analyse these results.

[1] This is the moment when the net is the ‘softest’ (relaxed) leading to the greatest risk of a marine mammal becoming entangled in it; once the net is wedged in the bottom, its height is quite low compared to that of the water column above, it therefore has little interaction with marine mammals; when the net is brought up, it is taut and therefore less conducive to the entanglement of a marine mammal.

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