This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Commercial and Recreational Angler Conflict with Coastal Wildlife on the Alabama Coast: Protecting Sea Turtles and Dolphins with Greater Awareness




Olivas, TiAnna

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Forestry and Wildlife Science


Human-wildlife interactions in the Gulf of Mexico fisheries, especially along Alabama’s coast, increasingly impact for-hire fishing industries and commercial shrimp industries. Both industries face growing challenges from non-targeted wildlife like dolphins and sea turtles, leading to bycatch, depredation, and scavenging, posing significant challenges to fishery sustainability and marine wildlife conservation. Our research characterizes human-wildlife conflicts within Alabama's for-hire fishing industry and commercial shrimp industry, assessing fishermen’s perceptions towards dolphins and sea turtles, knowledge of wildlife laws, and willingness to support conservation initiatives through surveys and interviews. Our findings highlight significant concerns about dolphin depredation and scavenging, which disrupt fishing operations and harm marine wildlife. While conflicts between fishermen and sea turtles are rare due to the use of turtle excluder devices, these devices remain controversial among fishermen due to operational challenges and bycatch issues attracting dolphins. This research underscores the need for continued education on wildlife-friendly gear and practices to prevent negative human-wildlife interactions, with implications for broader marine conservation initiatives in other commercial fisheries.