Fisheries impacts on marine megafauna have received global attention and are recognized as a serious problem. In Saudi waters of the Arabian Gulf, the artisanal fishery is responsible for 99.6% of landings. It uses a range of boat sizes and various types of fishing gears and operates in all accessible areas from shallow coastal bays to deep offshore waters. The objective of this work is to assess the captures and the impact of all fishing gear types used by the Saudi artisanal fishery on four marine megafauna groups: turtles, birds, dolphins, and dugongs (Dugong dugon). Nine questionnaire surveys were carried out from May 2013 to November 2014, covering a two-month period each. Ten main gear types were found to be used by 25 directed fisheries, including shrimp trawl, wire trap, hand line, troll, pelagic and demersal longline, and drift, surrounding, fixed, and set gillnets. Turtles were captured in relatively high numbers (4726 captures year−1) in nine directed fisheries, among which shrimp trawl fishery was responsible for 86.3% of the captures. The lowest capture rates were found with birds (13.1 captures year−1) and dolphins (7.4 captures year−1), related mainly with the Spanish mackerel longline and Indian mackerel surrounding gillnet fisheries. No dugong captures were recorded. In all, the Saudi artisanal fishery operating in the Arabian Gulf has a high impact on turtles and low impact on birds and dolphins. No impact on dugongs was reported during this study.
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|CMS Instrument||IOSEA Marine Turtles|