FAO TECHNICAL WORKING GROUP MEETING ON REDUCTION OF INCIDENTAL CATCH OF SEABIRDS IN LONGLINE FISHERIES
Tokyo, Japan, 25-27 March 1998
FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS
PREPARATION OF THIS DOCUMENT
This is the report of a meeting held in Tokyo from 25 to 27 March 1998 of a Technical Working Group (TWG) appointed by FAO to draft Guidelines on how incidental catch of seabirds in longline fisheries can be reduced. The TWG was also requested to prepare a first draft of a Plan of Action aimed to implement the mitigation Guidelines. The main content of this report is thus the Guidelines as developed during the meeting as well as the proposed Plan of Action. Three background papers describing longline fishing, incidental catch of seabirds and measures to reduce such incidental take of seabirds will be compiled into one document and published by FAO in one of its technical series. This publication should be used as a supplement to the Guidelines to understand the various options described.Distribution:
Participants at the meeting
The FAO Technical Working Group (TWG) on Reduction of Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries reviewed three background papers prepared for the meeting dealing with longline fishing technology and effort, the interaction of seabirds during fishing operations and how incidental catch of seabirds can be reduced by using various mitigation measures. It was decided that the content of these background papers should be compiled into one publication to be used as reference material for elaborating technical guidelines and the international plan of action.
The TWG also drafted Guidelines and a Plan of Action. The Guidelines are proposed to contain a list of mitigation measures which are either presently in use or under development, as well as a description of how information about mitigation measures could best be disseminated to fishers, the industry and other parties involved. Regarding the Plan of Action, the draft prepared by the TWG should be seen as a very first draft to be developed in a process leading up to the FAO Consultation to be held in October 1998.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
OBJECTIVES AND ORGANIZATION OF THE MEETING
Appendix 1: Participants to the FAO Technical Working Group on
Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries, Tokyo, 25-27 March 1998
Appendix 2: Draft note on Guidelines and Plan of Action
Appendix 3: Guidelines for reducing incidental catch of seabirds in
longline fisheries (draft)
Appendix 4: Plan of Action for implementation of Guidelines for reducing incidental catch of seabirds in longline fisheries (draft)
1. Responding to an increasing concern about the incidental catch of seabirds in longline fisheries and its potential negative impacts on seabird populations the twenty-second session of the Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) Committee on Fisheries (COFI) in March 1997 discussed the issue and agreed to the following proposal.
2. Some delegations expressed concern about incidental catch of seabirds and proposed that FAO, in collaboration with Japan and the United States, organise, using extra-budgetary funds, an expert consultation with regional experts from inside and outside governments to develop and propose Guidelines leading to a Plan of Action to be submitted at the next Session of the Committee aiming at a reduction in such incidental catch. Japan and the United States indicated their willingness to collaborate with FAO in the organisation of such a meeting".
3. Representatives from FAO and the governments of Japan and the United States met in June 1997 to discuss and agree on funding arrangements and a process leading up to the twenty-third COFI meeting in 1999. It was decided to establish a Technical Working Group of experts who should prepare for a FAO Consultation in Rome in the last quarter of 1998. The work should be co-ordinated with simultaneous FAO efforts to prepare for management of sharks and fishing capacity, which will be discussed at the same FAO Consultation.
4. A Steering Group with representatives from the funding countries, Japan and the United States, and FAO identified experts and nominated members to the Seabird Technical Working Group (STWG), who were subsequently approved and appointed by FAO. The Steering Group also suggested titles, content and authors of background papers as well as preparing a first draft of the Guidelines and Plan of Action, which formed a basis for elaboration of these documents by the STWG.
OBJECTIVES AND ORGANIZATION OF THE MEETING
5. The STWG, with 18 experts in the fields of seabird biology, fishing technology and fishery management from Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, the United States, Norway, Japan, South Africa and FAO as listed in Annex 1, met in the Mita-Kyoyo-Kaigisho in Tokyo, 25 to 27 March 1998 with the objectives of reviewing the three background papers and prepare two documents:
"Guidelines to Reduce Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries" and "Plan of Action for implementing the mitigation guidelines.
6. The three background papers are listed below:
- A Description of Pelagic and Demersal Longline Fisheries.
- The Bycatch of Seabird in Specific Longline Fisheries: A Worldwide Review.
- A Review of Longline Seabird Bycatch Mitigation Measures and their effect on other Marine species.
The papers were presented by the three lead authors and discussed by the STWG. The papers had been circulated to the STWG in advance of the meeting with requests for comments, corrections and additions.
7. It was agreed that the lead authors would revise their background papers based on comments and new information received from the other STWG members before, during and after the meeting.
8. Upon a proposal from FAO, it was also agreed to compile the content of the three papers into one publication, which subsequently will be published in the FAO Technical Series.
9. The authors under the leadership of John Cooper offered to prepare a first draft of a compiled version. This is viewed as an editing exercise to remove duplicate material and to ensure consistency of style and content. Such a draft will be finalised and forwarded to FAO by 1 June 1998. It was recognised that the final editing and approval of the background paper are the responsibility of the FAO.
10.The participants strongly recommended that FAO make every effort to have the compiled paper finalised in advance of the FAO Consultation in October 1998, so the paper can be made available to the participants at that meeting.
11. As background for preparation of the draft Guidelines and the Plan of Action, FAO had prepared instructions describing how these documents should be structured regarding purpose and content, as well as identifying targets for the two documents and their authorship (See Annex 2).
12. It was stated that the Seabird Mitigation Guidelines should be formulated as a stand-alone document, and that the Plan of Action should mainly consist of policy statements on how the mitigation Guidelines can be implemented on a national, regional and global scale. The Guidelines should therefore be regarded as an attachment to the Plan of Action.
13. It was agreed that the main content of the Guidelines should be a list of mitigation measures, which are either presently in use, or still under development. For measures in use, it was agreed that an assessment of effectiveness and cost should be provided.
14. It was agreed that the Guidelines should also describe how information about mitigation measures could best be disseminated to fishers, the industry and other parties involved. Assessment of the situation with regard to the incidental catch of seabirds and the need for further research and development of new measures would also be covered in the Guidelines. Mechanisms for evaluation of the effectiveness of new measures would also be described.
15. Considering the continuing development and changes in the condition of fisheries, available technology and uncertainties regarding the effectiveness of certain mitigation measures, it was recognised that the Guidelines needed to be flexible, allowing the incorporation for new mitigation developments.
16. A smaller group of participants was appointed to draft the mitigation Guidelines during the meeting according to instructions given by the STWG in plenary.
17. The draft Guidelines were presented in plenary, but as time did not permit a detail discussion and examination of the draft, participants were requested to send written comments to FAO by 6th April, for to be considered for inclusion in the final version of the Guidelines.
18. The Guidelines as shown in Annex 3 are thus a version revised by FAO, based on comments received within 10 days of closure of the meeting.
19. The Meeting endorsed the procedure for preparation of Guidelines outlined in paragraphs 16-18 above.
PLAN OF ACTION
20. The Plan of Action drafted by the STWG is to be considered as a first draft in a process where the Governments through the FAO Consultation in October 1998 will have the final responsibility for its content.
21. A smaller group of participants drafted an outline for Plan of Action, which subsequently was discussed and approved in plenary. The approved version is attached as Annex 4.
STATUS OF THE REPORT
22. The table of contents of this report was approved at the meeting. The report was sent to participants after the meeting with a one-week deadline for final approval. No reaction was taken to signify approval. Comments from STWG participants are included in this final report.
PARTICIPANTS TO THE FAO TECHNICAL WORKING GROUP ON INCIDENTAL CATCH OF SEABIRDS IN LONGLINE FISHERIES, TOKYO,
25-27 MARCH 1998
MEMBERS OF THE STWG
Mr Nigel Brothers
Parks and Wildlife Service Tasmania
134 Macquarie St.
Tel. 00 61 3 62 336182
Fax. 00 61 3 62 334833
Dr Graham Robertson
Australian Antarctic Division
Tel. 00 61 3 62323337
Fax. 00 61 3 62323351
Dr Takafumi Arimoto
Tokyo University of Fisheries
4-5-7, Kounan, Mimato-ku
Tel. 00 81 3 5463-0470; Fax. 00 81 3 5463 0360
Mr Yuji Kawai
Manager, International Division
Federation of Japan Tuna Cooperative Associations
2-3-22 Kudan-kita, Chiyoda-ku
Tel. 00 91 3 3264 6167
Fax. 00 81 3 3234 7455
Dr Yasuhiko Shimazu (Co-Chair)
Nat. Res. Inst. of Far Seas Fisheries
Tel. 00 81 543 36 6001
Fax. 00 81 543 35 9624
Dr Yuji Uozumi
Fishery Biologist, Tuna Ecology Section
Nat. Res. Inst. of Far Seas Fisheries
Tel. 00 81 543 36 6046
Fax. 00 81 543 35 9642
Mr Kiyoshi Katsuyama
Deputy Director, International Affairs Division
Fisheries Agency, Govt. Of Japan
Tel. 00 81 3 3591 1086
Fax. 00 81 3 3504 2649
Ms Janice Molloy
Senior Species Protection Officer
Department of Conservation
P.O. Box 10420
Tel. 00 64 4 4713 081
Dr Svein Loekkeborg
Institute of Marine Research
P.O. Box 1870
Tel. 00 47 55236826
Fax. 00 47 55 23 68 30
Mr John Cooper
BirdLife International Seabird Global Conservation Project
c/o Avian Demography Unit, Dept. of Statistical Sciences
University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 77000
Tel. 00 27 21 650 3426
Fax 00 27 21 650 3295
Dr Robert Furness
University of Glasgow
Graham Kerr Bldg.
Glasgow G12 8QQ
Tel. 00 44 141 330 3560
Fax. 00 44 141 330 5971
Ms Kim S. Rivera
Fisheries Management Specialist
Fisheries Management Division
National Marine Fisheries Service
P.O. Box 21668
Juneau, Alaska 99802
Tel. 00 1 907 586 7228
Fax. 00 1 907 586 7465
Ms Elizabeth Flint
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
P.O. Box 50167
Tel. 00 1 808 541 1201
Fax. 00 1 808 541 1216
Mr Thorn Smith
North Pacific Longline Association
4209 21st Avenue West, Suite 300
Tel. 00 1 206 282 4639
Fax. 00 1 206 282 4684
Mr Kenton Wohl
Regional Nongame Migratory Bird Coordinator
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
1011 E. Tudor Road
Tel. 00 1 907 786 3503
Fax. 00 1 907 786 3641
Mr John Willy Valdemarsen (co-chair)
Fishing Technology Service
Fishery Industry Division, FAO
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
0010 Rome, Italy
Tel. 00 39 6 570 56449
Fax. 00 39 6 57055188
Mr Joel Prado
Fishing Technology Service
Fishery Technology Division, FAO
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
0010 Rome, Italy
Tel. 00 39 6 570 54931
Fax. 00 39 6 570 55188
Dr Nick Rayns
Tuna and Billfish Fisheries
Australian Fisheries Management Authority
PO box 7051
Canberra Mail Centre
Canberra ACT 2610, Australia
Tel. 00 61 262 72 5286
Fax. 00 61 262724614
E-mail Nick.RAYNS@AFMA.gov.au or Colleen.Cross@afma.gov.au
From the United States
Ms Prudence Fox
National Marine Fisheries Service
1315 East-West Highway
Silver Spring MD 20910
Fax. 00 1 3017132313
Mr Masayuki Komatsu
Director of International Negotiations
Policy Planning Division
Fishery Agency of Japan
Tokyo, 100 Japan
Tel. 0 81 335916582; Fax 0081 335915824
DRAFT NOTE ON GUIDELINES AND PLAN OF ACTION
Guidelines are intended mostly for public – but also for private - sector managers of commercial fisheries. They identify main issues and advice the managers on how to deal with them in the national, regional and international context. Guidelines will have an information value also for the general public, government staff and user representatives at large.
A plan of action identifies what the international community agrees to do jointly, collectively or individually, in order to promote implement solutions to the main issues.
1. Purpose of this note
It would seem important and useful if the three Technical Working Groups (seabirds, capacity, and sharks) applied a similar definition, or criteria, in redrafting guidelines and elaborating plans of action. The purpose of this note is to contribute to a common understanding of these documents in the Fisheries Department.
It would seem useful in this context to agree on: the purpose of the document, its main users, the authors, and to provide examples of typical content.
Purpose: to provide background information and guide managers who are about to tackle these issues by making available, in condensed form, the experience of those who have already (successfully) addressed the issues/problems concerned.
User of guidelines. The primary user of the guidelines are managers, public or private, of commercial fisheries. This means that they are not primarily meant for Ministers or for technicians employed in fishery administrations. They are meant for the National Director of Fisheries and his closest collaborators. They will apply them as appropriate to national fishing vessels within the EEZ, to vessels flying the flag of the concerned state and engaged in high sea fisheries, and, in the management of fisheries under the jurisdiction of international management bodies. In addition the guidelines will have information value for the public at large, for civil society (user groups) and for government staff.
Authors. Experts are the authors of guidelines on technical subjects. This means that they preferably should not be subject to the approval of political bodies. In this case the guidelines for capacity, sharks and sea-birds will be finalised by the staff of the FAO Fisheries Department.
Content. The content focuses on what needs to be done and provides guidance for how "what needs to be done" is best carried out. After an introduction, which would identify the main issues, the guidelines would:
- Specify optional actions to be taken when appropriate;
- Discuss the efficiency and cost of alternative actions; and,
- Focus on activities rather than results.
3. Plans of action
Purpose. To affirm what the international community will do to further the implementation of the (national) guidelines, including identifying measurable results (targets).
User of plan of action. Governments and international organizations1.
Authors. Governments in consultation with their constituencies.
Content2. The typical content could be:
- A brief statement of the problem identifying major issues (maximum 1 page);
- Statement of the agreed strategy for finding/implementing a solution to major issues including the identification of measurable results;
- Commitments to develop and report on national plans of action;
- Statement of policies and on various forms of international co-operation including inter alia:
- arrangements for loans/grants in support of guideline implementation;
- specific policy support intended to benefit less developed countries;
- information exchange;
- joint research;
- joint monitoring;
- joint education/training/publicity.
Some reflection will show that there is, for the inexperienced public fishery manager, a missing link in the above. Today some fishery managers apply most, if not all, of the principles and methods identified in the guidelines. From them it will be fairly easy, probably, to adjust those activities which they agree can be improved in line with the guidelines provided.
The other group are those fishery managers who have not in the past applied management measures to control (reduce) capacity, conserve and manage shark fisheries, or reduce the incidental catch of sea-birds in long-line fisheries. They will need a "national plan of action" which should state how, at the national level, the fishery administration should proceed to introduce management in accordance with the guidelines. Such national plans of action will be the next step for many nations. They may in fact be one of the "national level undertakings" which will be contained in the "international plan of action" to be presented to COFI in 1999.
EXTRACT FROM REPORT ON FAO CONSULTATION ON CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT OF SHARKS
Planning Meeting for Technical Working Group ; FAO, Rome 25/26 September 1997
4.7 Draft plan of action
As conservation and management of sharks is an issue which probably is best dealt with on a regional basis, the Plan of Action will be presented to the FAO Consultation on Conservation and Management of Sharks for endorsement. An attempt will be made to write a short and concise document. The meeting agreed it was too early to have any firm views on the possibility of including quantified targets.
It was agreed that it is probably useful to have a global and a regional (based on Ocean area) section in the document. Under the Global section the following main sections seemed appropriate:
- research and data collection;
- criteria for setting conservation and management priorities;
- improving public awareness, including amongst fishers;
- international co-operation (inter alia: role of regional fishery management bodies and arrangements).
It is expected that in the Regional Section the application of the criteria (illustrated in the global section) will have resulted in the identification of some priorities for the conservation and management of sharks in the concerned regions.
GUIDELINES FOR REDUCING INCIDENTAL CATCH OF
SEABIRDS IN LONGLINE FISHERIES (Draft)
Noting an increased awareness in some countries about incidental catch of seabirds and its actual or potential adverse impacts on seabird populations a proposal was made at the 22nd Session of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Committee on Fisheries (COFI) in March 1997 that FAO organize an expert consultation, using extra-budgetary funds, to develop guidelines leading to a plan of action on how such incidental catch could be reduced in longline fisheries should be developed. Subsequently, the Governments of Japan and the United States agreed to collaborate with FAO in organizing such a consultation.
The draft Guidelines were developed by FAO with the assistance of a Technical Working Group consisting of experts in seabird biology, fishing technology and fisheries management from regions of the world where incidental catch of seabird in longline fisheries was considered a problem.
The draft Guidelines were developed using information provided by the following three background papers prepared by STWG members:
- Løkkeborg, S. 1998. A Description of Pelagic and Demersal Longline Fisheries
- Cooper, J. and R. Wanless. 1998. The Bycatch of Seabirds in Specific Longline Fisheries: A Worldwide Review
- Brothers, N. 1998. A Review of Longline Fisheries Seabird Bycatch Mitigation Measures and their Effect on Other Marine Species
These three papers will be compiled into one technical paper that will provide supplementary information about longline fishing, incidental catch of seabirds and options to reduce such incidental catch.
Longline fishing is regarded as an environmentally friendly fishing method used all over the world, from small-scale artisanal fishing to modern mechanized operations. The catching success of baited hooks is based on the target species’ demand for food, and fish are caught on longlines because they are attracted to the baits. During longline setting, seabirds feed on baits and incidental catches occur in some fisheries. All longline gear used worldwide is based on the basic unit, which consists of four parts: the mainline, the snood, the hook and the bait. However, in the various longline fisheries, variations are found in type and dimension of all these parts. There are also great variations in the setting and hauling operations. The gear may be set at the seabed (demersal longlining), float off the bottom at variable depth (semipelagic longlining) or suspended from line drifting freely at the surface (pelagic longlining). These variations in gear configuration and operation affect seabird catch rate and type of mitigation measures that may prove to be most effective in reducing the incidental catch of seabirds.
Pelagic longlining, which mainly targets tunas, swordfish and billfishes, is operated widely from temperate to tropical waters in all oceans. Main target species are bluefin, bigeye, yellowfin and albacore tunas and swordfish. The majority of the global tuna catches are landed by about 2,500 vessels from Japan, the Republic of Korea and Taiwan Province of China, but many other countries also have vessels operating in this fishery.
The most important demersal longline fisheries are found in the north Atlantic and the north Pacific. Demersal fishing in the northeast Atlantic is conducted mainly by the Norwegian and the Icelandic fleets of about 1,600 vessels. The most important species are cod, haddock and tusk, and the fleets of Norway and Iceland landed 144,000 and 69,000 tonnes, respectively, in 1996. In the northwest Atlantic, the Canadian longline fleet landed 72,000 tonnes of groundfish, mainly cod as an average during the period 1987-1991. The longline fleet of the northeast Pacific consists entirely of domestic vessels of the United States and Canada, and the most important fishing grounds are found in Alaskan waters. More than 4,000 vessels are registered in this region, but they do not operate throughout the year. The main species caught by longlines in this region are Pacific cod, halibut and sablefish, and the total landings were 193,000 tonnes in 1996. Small vessels operating in coastal areas dominate the longline fishery around Japan. About 12,000 vessels are registered and 65,000 tons were landed in 1995. A longline fishery in the Southern Ocean for Patagonian toothfish has been developed over the last few years; vessels from several countries participate. There is an unregulated and illegal fishery for Patagonian toothfish and as a consequence most of the catches are not reported.
Certain longline fisheries result in large numbers of seabirds being hooked on setting lines. The major "problem" fisheries are the demersal fisheries of the Northeast Pacific, North Atlantic, Southern Ocean and the Atlantic coast of South America, and the tuna pelagic fisheries of cool temperate seas in the North Pacific and in the Southern Ocean. However, data on the incidental catch of seabirds are lacking for a number of longline fisheries, including on the Pacific coast of South America, the Mediterranean Sea and in tropical waters of all oceans. Of 61 seabirds species affected, 23 (38%) are considered threatened by the World Conservation Union. Species most commonly taken are the albatrosses and larger petrels of the family Procellariidae. It is this group of species that are most at risk. Other groups (gulls, penguins, cormorants, gannets, and boobies) of seabirds have rarely been recorded as incidental catch from longlining.
A comprehensive number of mitigation measures for reducing incidental catch of seabirds in longline fisheries has been developed during the past 5-10 years. With widespread use of such mitigation measures, a significant reduction in incidental catch of seabirds is achievable at a minimal cost and with much financial benefit potential to longline fisheries.
3. Guidelines for reducing incidental catch of seabirds in longline fisheries
The goal of the Guidelines is to reduce the incidental catch of seabirds in longline fisheries.The measures recommended in the Guidelines take many forms including modifying fishing practices, using devices to reduce the accessibility of baited hooks to seabirds, and excluding vessels from fishing in areas with large numbers of seabirds or during periods when large numbers of seabirds occur. The Guidelines also provide advice on such matters as education of the fishers about the issues and available mitigation devices, exchange of information on bycatch observer programmes and bycatch studies, assessment of the level of incidental catch of seabirds, and assessment of the effectiveness of mitigation measures. Collectively, the Guidelines would create an awareness of, and allow for the reduction of incidental catch of seabirds in longline fisheries.
The draft Guidelines therefore consist of three sections:
I. Technical and operational measures for reducing the incidental catch of seabirds.
II. Extension and education.
III. Assessment of impacts, effectiveness and research.
I. Technical and operational measures for reducing the incidental catch of seabirds
To reduce the incidental catch of seabirds, it is essential to reduce the number of encounters between seabirds and baited hooks. It should be noted that, if used in combination, the options could improve mitigation effectiveness.
For each of the measures, the effectiveness and the cost involved for fishers are briefly presented. In this presentation, "effectiveness" is defined as to what extent the measures reduces incidental catch of seabirds; "cost" is defined as the initial cost or investment and any ongoing operational costs.
Other technical options are currently under development and fishers and researchers in the field may develop new mitigation measures, so the list of measures is likely to increase over time.
No single mitigation measure or device are currently suitable or acceptable for all longline fisheries or vessels. Therefore, each country will find it advantageous and will be encouraged to implement a number of measures that reflect the needs of their specific longline fisheries.
A. Technical Measures
1. Increase the sink rate of baits
a. Weighting the longline gear
Concept: Increase the sinking speed of baited hooks and reduce their exposure time to seabirds.
Effectiveness:Studies have shown that appropriate line-weighting can be highly effective in avoiding bait loss to birds.
Cost: The cost is the initial purchase of the weighting material (either heavier gear or weights) and any ongoing replacement of weights lost during fishing.
b. Thawing bait
Concept: Overcome buoyancy problems in bait by thawing and/or puncturing swim bladders.
Effectiveness: Rate of incidental catch of seabirds is reduced when thawed baits are used. It has also been shown that bait fish with deflated swim bladders sink more quickly than those with inflated swim bladders did.
Cost: Possible costs include bait thawing rack, or extra weight to compensate flotation resulting from the air bladder.
c. Line-setting machine
Concept: Increase line sinking rate by removing line tension during gear deployment.
Effectiveness: Although no quantitative assessments have been done, this practice would result in the line sinking more rapidly thereby reducing availability of baited hooks to seabirds.
Cost: For some fisheries, initial costs may include purchase of a line-setting device.
2. Below-the-water setting chute, capsule, or funnel
Concept: Prevent access by seabirds to baited hooks by setting line under water.
Effectiveness: Underwater setting devices are still under development but could have high effectiveness.
Cost: Initial cost would include purchase of the underwater setting device.
3. Bird-scaring line positioned over or in the area where baited hooks enter the water
Concept: Prevent seabirds access to baited hooks where they enter the water. The bird scaring line is designed to discourage birds from taking baited hooks by preventing their access to baited hooks. Design specifications may vary by vessel, fishing operation, and location and are critical to its effectiveness. Streamer lines and towing buoys are examples of these techniques.
Effectiveness: A number of studies and anecdotal observations have demonstrated significant effectiveness of these devices when properly designed and used.
Cost: Low initial cost for the purchase and installation of bird scaring line.
4. Bait casting machine
Concept: Places bait in area protected by a bird scaring line and outside the turbulence caused by the propeller and the ships wake.
Effectiveness Deployment of bait under the protection zone of the bird-scaring line reduces the availability of baited hooks to seabirds. The extent to which bait loss is reduced by the use of bait casting machines, used either without a bird-scaring line or in a manner such that baits are not protected by a bird-scaring line, is yet to be determined.
Cost: High, initial costs may include purchase of a bait-casting device.
5. Brickle curtain
Concept: To deter seabirds from taking baited hooks during the haul by using a bird scaring curtain.
Effectiveness: Anecdotal evidence indicates that the bird-scaring curtain can effectively discourage birds from seizing baits in the hauling area.
Cost: Low, cost for materials.
6. Artificial baits or lures
Concept: Reduce palatability or availability of baits.
Effectiveness: New baits are still under development and effectiveness has yet to be resolved.
Cost: Currently unknown.
7. Hook modification
Concept: Utilize hook types that reduce the probability of birds getting caught when they attack a baited hook.
Effectiveness: Hook size might effect the species composition of incidental caught seabirds. The effect of modification of hooks is, however, poorly documented.
8. Acoustic deterrent
Concept: Deterring birds from the longline using acoustic signals, such as high frequency, high volume, distress call, etc.
Effectiveness: Low probability of being effective as background noises are loud and habituation to noises is common among seabirds.
9. Water cannon
Concept: Concealing baited hooks by using high pressure water.
Effectiveness: There is no definite conclusion about the effectiveness of this method.
10. Magnetic deterrent
Concept: Perturbing the magnetic receptors of the birds by creating magnetic fields.
Effectiveness: No indication of effect in practical experiments.
B. Operational Measures
1. Reduce visibility of bait
Concept: Set during hours of darkness and reduce illumination of baited hooks in the water.
Effectiveness: This method is generally recognized as being highly effective. However, effectiveness can vary between fishing grounds and also seasonally according to the seabird species. Effectiveness of this measure may be reduced around the full moon.
Cost: A restriction of line setting to the hours of darkness may affect fishing capacity, especially for smaller longliners. Small costs may be incurred to make vessel lighting appropriate.
Such restriction can also entail investing in costly technology for maximizing fishing efficiency in a shorter period of time.
2. Reduce the attractiveness of the vessels to seabirds
Concept: Reducing the attractiveness of vessels to seabirds will reduce the potential for seabirds being incidentally caught. Materials (e.g. fish discards, garbage) discharged from vessels should be at a time or in a way that makes them least available to birds or least likely to cause them harm. If dumping offal is unavoidable, it should be done on the opposite side of the vessel to where lines are being set or in such a manner that birds are not attracted to the vessel (e.g., at night).
Effectiveness: The issue of offal discharge is a complex one. It is worth mentioning conflicting results regarding effects of various procedures in the studies done to date.
Cost: Low, in some situations costs may be associated with providing for offal containment or reconfiguration of offal discharge systems on the vessel.
3. Area and seasonal closures
Concept: Reduce incidental catch of seabirds when concentrations of breeding or foraging seabirds can be avoided.
Effectiveness: Area and seasonal closures could be effective (such as in high density foraging areas or during the period of chick care when parental duties limit the distances adults can fly from breeding sites) although displacement of fishing fleet to other seabird areas needs to be considered.
Cost: Unknown, but a restriction on fishing by area or season may effect fishing capacity.
4. Give preferential licensing to vessels with fishing systems and devices that reduce incidental catch of seabirds
Concept: Incentive provided for effective use of mitigation measures that do not require compliance monitoring.
Effectiveness: May be highly effective in stimulating the use of mitigation measures and development of fishing systems that reduce incidental catch of seabirds.
5. Release live birds
Concept: If despite the precautions, seabirds are incidentally caught, every reasonable effort should be made to ensure that birds brought onboard alive are released alive and that when possible hooks should be removed without jeopardizing the life of the birds.
Effectiveness: Depends on the number of birds brought onboard alive and this is considered small.
II. Extension and education
Design and implement educational programs for fishers that demonstrate the correct use of mitigation measures for reducing incidental catch of seabirds. In addition, design and implement outreach programmes for fishers and other interested members of the public aimed at improving the understanding of the incidental catch of seabirds and the effective mitigation measures promoted by FAO and others. The outreach programme may include educational curricula, and guidelines disseminated through videos, handbooks, brochures and posters. The programmes should focus on both the conservation aspects of this issue and on the economic benefits of expected increased fishing efficiency by eliminating bait loss to seabirds. Information regarding results of the use of mitigation measures should also be provided to fishers. Materials should be made available to all fisheries managers, fishers, gear technologists, maritime architects, shipbuilders and conservationists.
III. Assessment of impact, effectiveness and research
a. Promote development of standard protocols for collecting, analyzing, and reporting information concerning incidental catch of seabirds.
b. Collect reliable data (including onboard observers) to determine incidental catch of seabirds in longline fisheries and the effectiveness of mitigation measures.
c. Assess the extent of the incidental catch of seabirds in each longline fishery annually, including by seasons, time-of-day, moon phase, weather, species, and mitigation measures used.
d. Conduct further research to improve existing measures for reducing the incidental catch of seabirds and to develop the most practical and effective seabird deterrent device.
Summary table of mitigation measures
Type of Measure
Stage of development
Compliance monitoring needs
Relative cost initital or ongoing
Safety factor for crew
Negative impact on
Non-bird by catch
high initial, low ongoing
specific problem potential
Thawing bait and/or
puncturing swim bladder
part development and tested
high at present
developed, partly tested
moderate initial, low on-going
Bird Scaring Line
(Streamers lines, buoy lines)
developed, tested, refinement needed
variable, by observation
high but variable
developed, partly tested
variable, by observation
Artificial baits or lures
high initial low ongoing
at concept stage
unknown, but very low
unknown but low likelihood
very low likelihood
Reduce visibility of bait
(e.g., night setting)
currently in use in some
widely none, locally high initial
Reduce the attractiveness of
the vessel (e.g., reduce offal discharge)
very high (line hauling)
Area and seasonal closures
Preferential licensing for vessels
Release live birds
PLAN OF ACTION FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF GUIDELINES FOR REDUCING INCIDENTAL CATCH OF SEABIRDS IN LONGLINE FISHERIES (Draft)
1. Seabirds are being incidentally caught in various commercial longline fisheries in the world, and concerns are arising about the impacts of this incidental catch. Incidental catch of seabird also has an adverse impact on fishing productivity and profitability. Governments, nongovernmental organizations, and commercial fishery associations are petitioning for measures to reduce the mortality of seabirds in longline fisheries in which seabirds are incidentally taken.
2. Key longline fisheries in which incidental catch of seabird are known to occur are: tuna, swordfish and billfish in all oceans; Patagonian toothfish in the Southern Ocean, and halibut, black cod, Pacific cod, Greenland halibut, cod, haddock, tusk and ling in the northern oceans (Pacific and Atlantic). The species of seabirds most frequently taken are albatrosses and petrels in the Southern Ocean, northern fulmars in the North Atlantic and albatrosses, gulls and fulmars in the North Pacific fisheries.
3. Responding to the need to reduce the incidental catch of seabirds in commercial fisheries in the Southern Ocean, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) adopted mitigation measures in 1992 for its 23 member countries to reduce seabird bycatch. Under the auspices of the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT), Australia, Japan and New Zealand have studied and taken seabird mitigation measures in their southern bluefin tuna longline fishery since 1992, and in 1995 CCSBT adopted the recommendation relating to ecologically related species, including the incidental mortality of seabird by longline fishing, which stipulates the policy on data and information collection, mitigation measures, as well as education and information dissemination. All member nations of CCSBT have made the use of bird scaring lines (tori poles) mandatory in their fisheries. The United States also adopted, by regulation, seabird bycatch reduction measures for its groundfish longline fisheries in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska in 1997, and for its halibut fishery in 1998. The United States is currently developing measures to mitigate the incidental catch of seabirds in the Hawaiian pelagic longline fisheries. Several other countries with longline fisheries have likewise adopted similar mitigation measures.
4. The draft Plan of Action and its attached Guidelines build upon, and are consistent with, the provisions and the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. Article 7.6.9 of the Code provides that States should take appropriate measures to minimise waste, discards,catch by lost or abandoned gear, catch of non-target species, both fish and non-fish species, and negative impact on associated or dependant species in particular endangered species. It further provides that States and sub-regional or regional fisheries management organizations and arrangements should promote, to the extent practicable, the development and use of selective, environmentally safe and cost effective gear and techniques. Action is not conditioned on the conservation status of seabird populations.
5. The draft Plan of Action encompasses longline fisheries where there is an incidental catch of seabirds and requires the implementation of mitigation measures, taking into consideration their practicality for the fishery concerned.
Statements of Policy
6. These statements of policy recognize that co-operation between FAO Members and other countries with important longline fisheries is essential to reduce the incidental catch of seabirds given the global nature of the issue.
7. States and regional fisheries management bodies will implement appropriate mitigation measures in longline fisheries using the attached Guidelines, noting that the Guidelines provide advice on the appropriateness, efficiency and effectiveness of each mitigation measure and combination of measures.
B. Research and Development
8. States and regional fisheries management bodies will implement research and development programmes to improve technologies and practises which reduce the incidental capture of seabirds and undertake specific research to evaluate the effectiveness of mitigation measures used in their fisheries.
C. Information gathering
9. States, in collaboration with regional and global organizations (such as FAO) and other states, will collect and exchange information on the incidental catch of seabirds to assess the extent of the incidental catch of seabirds in each longline fishery.
Education, training and publicity
10. States and regional fisheries management bodies will educate fishers, fishing associations and other relevant groups about this Action Plan, the Guidelines and other information on the incidental catch of seabirds in longline fisheries, and promote the use of this Action Plan and the Guidelines within relevant groups.
11. States will establish and publicise programmes that provide technical or financial assistance for reducing the incidental catch of seabirds, or both.
D. National Plans of Action
12. Recognizing the benefits of working in partnership with the fishing industry in reducing the incidental catch of seabirds, States will prepare and submit to the FAO a National Plan of Action based on the Guidelines.
13. The National Plan will contain the means by which data on incidental catch of seabirds, seabird species identification and the use of mitigation measures will be collected, noting that an at-sea observer programme is regarded as the most effective means of gathering representative and independent data.
14. States will prepare and submit reports to FAO, which will compile the information to be presented at COFI meetings. Reports will describe progress made by each country in implementing the Plan of Action and the Guidelines.
15. States and regional fisheries management bodies will establish or improve monitoring programmes in their longline fisheries to ensure that the State’s mitigation measures and its National Plan of Action are being implemented.
1 In the process leading up to the October Consultation, groups of experts (meeting as TWGs) will be asked to provide their views as to what should be contained in the (international) plans of action. The purpose is to facilitate the subsequent part of (fishery sector) policy makers and to attempt to ensure that any concrete proposals for action are technically feasible. 2 See also Annex 1.