(Agenda item 7).
17. CWP noted that a number of its agencies had further developed their data collection for elasmobranchs and, in some cases, other bycatch species.
18. NAFO hosted a symposium on Elasmobranch Fisheries: Managing for Sustainable Use and Biodiversity Conservation in September 2002. The Symposium was attended by participants from 22 countries, and presentations highlighted the importance of elasmobranchs and their fisheries worldwide. A summary of the discussions is on the NAFO website and the proceedings will be published in the NAFO Journal of Northwest Atlantic Fishery Science (expected by early-2004). An identification chart was developed for use on board the vessels and is now also available on the web. In addition NAFOs Scientific Council had agreed that improved catch statistics were required to monitor the wolffish catches and Contracting Parties were requested to report the catches of wolffish by species. An identification guide was issued for use on board vessels.
19. IOTC noted that the statistics of elasmobranches and other species usually making up the bycatch of tuna fisheries collated by the IOTC Secretariat are highly incomplete and inaccurate, mainly due to underreporting and aggregation. The collection of bycatch data through the IOTC Sampling Programmes continued during the intersessional period. The recent creation of a Working Party on Bycatch, resulting from a Recommendation by the Scientific Committee in 2002, with priority given to shark statistics, can help to assess this issue in the future. Predation of longline-caught fish by sharks and cetaceans was a common occurrence, and a working party is examining ways to improve the collection of such data.
20. FAO reported that recent initiatives and the growing awareness on the needs of better elasmobranch data, stimulated by the International Plan of Action on sharks, have yielded more detailed statistics. A greater number of countries has been reporting elasmobranch capture statistics with a good breakdown by species, some of which only reported aggregated data in the past.
21. FAO had published Volume II of the revised and expanded version of the catalogue Sharks of the World. Completion of the two other volumes is expected by the end of 2003 or early 2004. Overall, the new catalogue will contain 480 species, about 140 more than the previous version of the catalogue published in 1984. Volume II is available on the Internet (ftp://ftp.fao.org/fi/document/sidp/x9293E_SharksVol2/X9293E00.pdf).
22. In addition, the Field Guide of Elasmobranchs of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden and the Field Guide of Elasmobranchs of the Mediterranean and Black Sea are also expected to be released by FAO in 2003. The preparatory work for a Catalogue of batoids of the world has started following a meeting with leading taxonomists in March 2002. This catalogue will include over 600 species and comprise five volumes, releases of which are expected between 2004 and 2009.
23. SPC reported that observer data that can be used to estimate elasmobranch catch rates have been compiled by the OFP for longline and purse seine; however, the coverage rates are less than 1 percent for longline and less than 3 percent for purse seine. This level of coverage is considered insufficient to reliably estimate annual catches of elasmobranchs in the WCPO. Further, most tuna fishery catch and effort logsheets that are currently used in the SPC region do not allow the collection of elasmobranch catch data by species due to lack of space. In order to better monitor the catches of major non-target species (such as sharks) and species of special interest (such as turtles, marine mammals and seabirds), the SPC/FFA Data Collection Committee has developed a longline logbook that will contain detailed information on pelagic sharks. The logbook will be tested in the near future.
24. CCAMLR has published a set of species identification sheets to assist scientific observers in making accurate identification of as many species as possible that appear in longline and trawl catches. In addition, a book Identification of Seabirds of the Southern Ocean was published jointly by CCAMLR and New Zealand in 1999. In both documents, the aim has been to compress as much information into a simple field guide that will allow observers to identify most species as quickly as possible.
25. Data on bycatch taken in fisheries in the Southern Ocean are collected by Flag States and scientific observers. These data are routinely assessed by CCAMLR, and further work is underway to improve the quality of these datasets.
26. ICCAT held a workshop in 2001 to evaluate the availability of data for shark species. On the basis of this workshop, assessments for two species - blue shark and shortfin mako shark - have been scheduled for 2004. Work on integrating shark data into the ICCAT database is still underway. In addition, ICCAT had recommended further coordination and collaboration with other international organizations, especially ICES and GFCM for the assessment of Atlantic and Mediterranean stocks of porbeagle, blue and shortfin mako sharks.
27. There is no consensus within CCSBT on reporting of bycatches by its Members. However, considerable discussion on bycatch reporting is likely to occur at the next meeting of CCSBTs Ecologically Related Species Working Group. The standards for the new SBT Scientific Observer program will include a listing of data collection priorities for non-SBT catches, but discussion of the actual priorities is still underway. In addition, CCSBT is currently developing education pamphlets for the SBT fleet, in relation to seabirds and seabird catch mitigation, and shark identification.
28. SEAFDEC reported that shark fins were an important commodity within ASEAN countries, and there was a need to develop fin identification techniques based on microscopic examination or DNA analysis. SEAFDEC has been promoting the implementation of national plans of action under the International Plan of Action on Sharks, especially to accommodate major shark species into the species classifications of member countries national fisheries statistics through various means.
29. An EC funded project (DEASS) on the assessment of elasmobranch species has been coordinated through ICES and is near completion.
30. CWP welcomed the preparation of more field guides for the identification of elasmobranchs and agreed that further practical field guides were required to allow the at-sea identification of sharks based on fins and other body parts, which are often the only parts landed.
31. CCAMLR has approached some CWP Members for information on incidental catches of Southern Ocean seabirds and other species arising from fishing in areas adjacent to CCAMLRs Convention Area. CWP urged Members to provide such information. In addition, CWP Members were encouraged to consider ways of improving and standardising the reporting of bycatch of non-fish species (e.g. seabirds, turtles).