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The Aquatic Wild Meat Database: a useful tool for monitoring small cetaceans illegally exploited for food and other purposes

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Mel Cosentino, Lucrecia Souviron Priego

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International Whaling Commission


Aquatic wild meat is defined as the products derived from aquatic megafauna (e.g., aquatic mammals) that are used for food and other purposes (e.g., bait). It is obtained through illegal or unregulated hunts as well as from stranded (dead or alive) or bycaught animals. This activity constitutes a serious threat to many species of aquatic mammals around the world. Understanding the drivers of the use of aquatic mammals is of paramount importance to implement effective conservation measures and management programmes to monitor these activities. The Aquatic Wild Meat Database aim is to centralise available data on aquatic mammal utilisation at a global scale, making it possible to detect understudied areas and those of greater concern. This open access, online application was created in using the R package "shiny". The data is obtained by contacting authors specialised in the field, as well as from scientific articles and grey literature such as reports and newspaper articles. The application can also be used to collect anecdotal records that are rarely published, by allowing users to contribute using a simple form. The data is displayed as a global interactive map and trends graphs per country, which can help identify areas where opportunistic utilisation led to directed catches. There are currently 91 data points from 26 countries. Future work includes continue to populate the database and expanding to other taxa. The Aquatic Wild Meat Database is expected to be a useful tool for the scientific community and the public at large, and help implement conservation measures in the areas of greater risk.

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