Marine human-wildlife conflict

As apex predators, marine mammals like sea lions and seals (e.g., pinnipeds) play important regulatory roles in marine systems. However, for much of human history, marine mammals have been exploited for meat, their pelts, or to stop them ‘stealing’ from fisheries or damaging fishing gear. This exploitation pushed many marine mammal populations to the edge of extinction during the 18th and 19th centuries. In the 20th century, the widespread introduction of protective legislation has allowed many marine mammal populations to recover. Unfortunately, this recovery has once again fired up conflict between these animals and fisheries. Conflict imposes large negative impacts on fisheries, but also on the recovery prospects of these animal populations. We are working to quantify the impacts of pinniped interactions on fisheries catch and income around the world, as well as the impact of different management actions and climate conditions on the population dynamics and recovery trajectories of different pinniped species. Check out some of our exiting work on this area below.


Pinnipeds on the west coast of South America

In Peru and Chile, pinnipeds like the South American sea lion (Otaria flavescens) and South American fur seal (Arctocephalus australis) damage fishing nets and compete with small-scale fishers for fish.

In this research we 1) identify the key concerns fishers have regarding their interactions with sea lions, 2) quantify the economic impacts of sea lions on fishers’ income, and 3) project the impacts of different management strategies on pinniped population dynamics. 

UAV footage of the South American sea lion and South American fur seal in Peru
Small-scale fisheries in Chile
Sea Lions, Yerbas Buenas Chile

Selected collaborators

Stefan Gelcich, Pontifical Catholic University of Chile

Joanna Alfaro-Shigueto, ProDelphinus Peru

Jeffrey Mangel, ProDelphinus Peru

William Arlidge, Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries

Rodrigo Oyanedel, University of Oxford

George Swan, Universidad Austral de Chile


Selected publications


Davis, KJ, J Alfaro-Shigueto, WNS Arlidge, M Burton, JC Mangel, M Mills, EJ Milner-Gulland, J Palma Duque, C Romero-de-Diego & S Gelcich. 2021. Local disconnects in global discourses - the unintended consequences of marine mammal protection on small-scale fishers. Conservation Letterse12835. 10.1111/conl.12835.



Davis, KJ. 2021. Managed culls mean extinction for a marine mammal population when combined with extreme climate impacts. bioRxiv, DOI: BIORXIV/2021/462338.