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Franciscana Dolphin

The Franciscana is also known as La Plata River Dolphin.  It is not a freshwater species but is found in shallow, coastal waters of the western South Atlantic.  There is no current estimate of abundance for the species as a whole, but the Franciscana was assessed as vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2008.  This is due to fishing-related mortality at levels believed to be unsustainable. The expansion of gillnet fisheries in the region is predicted to accelerate the population's decline.

The Conservation Management Plan (CMP) for the Franciscana was adopted by the IWC in 2016 and is the first CMP for a small cetaceans species.  Its overall aim is to protect Franciscana habitat and minimise anthropogenic threats, particularly by-catch.

The CMP has identified a number of priority actions:

  • monitoring abundance, trends and bycatch;
  • mitigating bycatch;
  • developing and implementing protected areas;
  • encouraging the adoption and implementation of a national action plan to reduce interractions of marine mammals with fisheries in Argentina;
  • developing a strategy to increase public awareness of the Franciscana;
  • including the Franciscana in bilateral and multilateral discussions.

You can read the Franciscana CMP here.

Click here to read about a research programme, supported by the IWC Small Cetaceans Voluntary Fund, which is working to improve abundance estimates for Franciscana, in order to guide conservation actions.