In response to the growing concern about incidental catch of seabirds, FAO developed the International Plan of Action for reducing incidental catch of seabirds in longline fisheries (IPOA-Seabirds). The IPOA-Seabirds requests countries with longline fisheries to conduct an assessment of these fisheries to determine if a problem exists with respect to the incidental catch of seabirds. If a problem exists, the country should adopt a National Plan of Action for Reducing Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries (NPOA-Seabirds). Some FAO Members informed the twenty-fifth session of the Committee on Fisheries (COFI), held in February 2003 in Rome, that their efforts to develop NPOA-Seabirds had not progressed to a significant extent, and indicated that a lack of technical assistance from FAO had been partly the cause for this lack of progress, while others noted that they did not yet have enough data to complete their assessments.
Several countries in the South American region have significant populations of albatrosses and petrels. Overlap in the foraging areas of these seabird populations with the fishing grounds of longline fisheries in the southwestern Atlantic and southeastern Pacific indicates that interactions occur between seabirds and longliners along the coast of South America. Information on seabird mortality in fisheries in this region was brought together and discussed at the first South American Workshop on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels organized by BirdLife International in September 2001 in Punta del Este, Uruguay. The workshop presented assessments and data on levels of seabird mortality which indicated that significant numbers of seabirds are caught annually in several longline fisheries in the region. Accordingly, several countries in South America stated in their reports to the twenty-fifth COFI meeting that the assessments of their fisheries indicated a need for developing NPOA-Seabirds.
The two organizations, FAO and BirdLife International, originally planned to organize a workshop in South America to discuss albatross and petrel conservation and to initiate the development of NPOA-Seabirds in the regional countries. Recognizing significant overlap in the agendas and potential participants of the two meetings, it was agreed to organize a joint workshop on interactions between seabirds and longline fisheries in the South American region. Thus representatives of different disciplines (research institutes, fishing industry, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), governmental agencies) from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador (was not represented), Peru and Uruguay were invited to discuss topics related to implementation of NPOA-Seabirds and conservation of albatrosses and petrels.