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Otters And Fisheries - Workshop Report

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Author(s): Kucerov√° M.

Journal: IUCN Otter Specialist Group Bulletin
ISSN 1023-9030

Volume: 16;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 26;
Date: 1999;
Original page

Keywords: otter | Lutra | human | conflict

ABSTRACT
Through history, human and otters have been in competition for resources such as fish. The result of the recovery of otter populations, especially in central Europe, is likely to lead to an escalation of this conflict, and solutions are needed urgently. We recommend not treating fishermen and fish farmers as enemies but as partners, to learn about their problems and how they percieve them, to take those problems seriously as they are our problems too, to remember that it takes time to build confidence between people concerned, to use the knowledge gained to develop clear, useful project objectives and avoid duplication of effort, and to make the results available as soon as possible. Important aspects to consider are sociological (we should carry out studies to find out opinion and perceptions of all parties involved), economic (marketing studies should be carried out not only on the ecotourism potential of otters, but whether fish advertised as being produced using otter-friendly methods from places that protect otters would be an attractive product to the consumer), evaluation (independent estimation of otter damage is needed, along with clear guidelines on what 'damage' consists of, and compensation criteria), preventative measures (electric fences, repellents etc to deter otters from using particular locations) and education (the otters' attractive appearance and appeal makes it an ideal species for work with the public, school children and tourists, but a different kind of public relations work is needed for interest groups with years of negative attitudes to otters have to be overcome). The main conclusion of the workshop was that greater cooperation and exchange of information between peope who work with otters is needed. Greater effort must be put into evaluating possible economic losses for fish farmers and fishermen, searching for alternative solutions that can change their attitudes towards otters.
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