CetAMBICion project ends with advances in the knowledge of cetacean populations in the Bay of Biscay

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The project “Coordinated strategy for the assessment, monitoring and management of cetaceans in the Bay of Biscay and Iberian coast subregion (CetAMBICion)” is approaching the final stretch after two and a half years of work. In order to present the results achieved in the project and discuss a series of recommendations and elements to reduce bycatch, the partners participated in the closing meeting of this international project. Possible future initiatives and projects that could provide continuity to CetAMBICion and contribute to further increase knowledge were also discussed.

The event, held at the headquarters of the Biodiversity Foundation of the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge (MITECO), a partner of the project, was attended by more than 60 participants, including partners from Spain, France and Portugal, members of the project’s Advisory Council, partners from other similar initiatives and other collaborators, as well as representatives of interested sectors.


During the conference, the project partners shared the results of the different actions aimed at improving information on cetacean populations in the Bay of Biscay and the Iberian coast, the impact of bycatch on these species, as well as the mitigation measures that are working and other alternatives that could be implemented to reduce this problem in the region.

On the one hand, the project has worked to improve the existing scientific knowledge on cetaceans, especially common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and porpoises, and the threats to which they are exposed, identifying the areas of greatest risk of bycatch in the Bay of Biscay. For this purpose, a broad panel of specialists from the scientific sector and administrations, as well as the contribution of the fishing sector, have been involved.

Along these lines, a proposal has been developed to evaluate and estimate the abundance and distribution of these cetaceans and to monitor incidental catches that occur during fishing activities. An analysis of the state of the art and the effectiveness of existing measures to deter cetacean species and prevent their accidental capture has also been carried out.

In addition, one of the most important parts of the CetAMBICion project has been the implementation of pilot tests of mitigation devices and measures in different fishing gears, such as acoustic devices in fixed and purse seine nets, cetacean exclusion devices in trawl nets and the movement rule, based on the displacement of fishing vessels from those areas where a high density of cetacean specimens is detected.


Another fundamental pillar of this initiative has been the participation of all stakeholders. To this end, more than ten workshops have been held in the three countries with the sectors involved in the marine environment, mainly the fishing sector, to report on the progress and results of the project and to encourage their involvement. The objective has also been to improve their knowledge of the marine environment, marine strategies and interactions between fishing activities and cetacean populations. The conclusions of these workshops were also presented during the event.

Lastly, the transfer of results is key, which is why various information and awareness-raising materials have been developed.


The CetAMBICion project, coordinated by the Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas del Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (IIM-CSIC) and involving 15 partners from Spain, France and Portugal, has aimed to strengthen collaboration and scientific work between the three countries to estimate and reduce cetacean bycatch in the Bay of Biscay and Iberian Coast sub-region, in close collaboration with the fishing sector.

The project is part of the European Commission’s DG ENV/MSFD 2020 (Marine Strategy Framework Directive) call and the objectives are also aligned with the Habitats Directive and the Common Fisheries Policy.