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Mission

The objective of the IPOA-SEABIRDS is to reduce the incidental catch of seabirds in longline fisheries where this occurs.

Issues

Seabirds are being incidentally caught in various commercial longline fisheries in the world, and concerns are arising about the impacts of this incidental catch. Key longline fisheries in which incidental catch of seabirds are known to occur are: tuna, swordfish and billfish in some particular parts of 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. Noting an increased awareness about the incidental catch of seabirds in longline fisheries and its potential negative impacts on seabird populations, a proposal was made at the Twenty-second Session of the Committee on Fisheries (COFI) in March 1997 that FAO organize an expert consultation to develop Guidelines leading to a Plan of Action to be submitted at the next Session of COFI aiming at a reduction in such incidental catch.

Approaches

  • In implementing the IPOA-SEABIRDS States should carry out a set of activities. This should be done as appropriate in conjunction with relevant international organizations. The exact configuration of this set of activities will be based on an assessment of the incidental catch of seabirds in longline fisheries.
  • States with longline fisheries should conduct an assessment of these fisheries to determine if a problem exists with respect to incidental catch of seabirds. If a problem exists, States should adopt a National Plan of Action for reducing the incidental catch of seabirds in longline fisheries (NPOA-SEABIRDS). The NPOA-SEABIRDS is a plan that a State designs, implements and monitors to reduce the incidental catch of seabirds in longline fisheries. The NPOA-SEABIRDS should:
    • prescribe appropriate mitigation methods. These should have a proven efficiency, and be cost-effective for the fishing industry. If effectiveness of mitigation measures can be improved by combining different mitigation measures or devices, it is likely that each State will find it advantageous to implement a number of different measures that reflect the need and particular circumstances of their specific longline fishery.
    • contain plans for research and development, including those aiming:
      • to develop the most practical and effective seabird deterrent device
      • to improve other technologies and practices which reduce the incidental capture of seabirds
      • undertake specific research to evaluate the effectiveness of mitigation measures used in the longline fisheries, where this problem occurs
    • prescribe means to raise awareness among fishers, fishing associations and other relevant groups about the need to reduce the incidental catch of seabirds in longline fisheries where this occurs; National and International Plans of Action and other information on the incidental catch of seabirds in longline fisheries; and to promote the implementation of the NPOA-SEABIRDS among national industry, research and its own administration
    • provide information about technical or financial assistance for reducing the incidental catch of seabirds
    • preferably describe design and implementation of outreach programmes for fishers, fisheries managers, gear technologists, maritime architects, shipbuilders, and conservationists and other interested members of the public. These programmes should aim at improving the understanding of the problem resulting from incidental catch of seabirds and the use of mitigation measures
    • prescribe collection programmes of reliable data to determine the incidental catch of seabirds in longline fisheries and the effectiveness of mitigation measures. Such programmes may make use of onboard observers.
  • States which determine that an NPOA-SEABIRDS is not necessary should review that decision on a regular basis, particularly taking into account changes in their fisheries, such as the expansion of existing fisheries and/or the development of new longline fisheries. If, based on a subsequent assessment, States determine that a problem exists, they should implement an NPOA-SEABIRDS within two years.
  • The assessment should be included as a part of each relevant State's NPOA-SEABIRDS.
  • States should report on the progress of the assessment, development and implementation of their NPOA-SEABIRDS as part of their biennial reporting to FAO on the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.
  • Each State is responsible for the design, implementation and monitoring of its NPOA-SEABIRDS.
  • States recognize that each longline fishery is unique and the identification of appropriate mitigation measures can only be achieved through on-the-spot assessment of the concerned fisheries.
  • In implementing their NPOA-SEABIRDS States should regularly, at least every four years, assess their implementation for the purpose of identifying cost-effective strategies for increasing the effectiveness of the NPOA-SEABIRDS.
  • States, within the framework of their respective competencies and consistent with international law, should strive to cooperate through regional and subregional fisheries organizations or arrangements, and other forms of cooperation, to reduce the incidental catch of seabirds in longline fisheries.
  • In implementing the IPOA-SEABIRDS States recognize that cooperation among States which have important longline fisheries is essential to reduce the incidental catch of seabirds given the global nature of the issue. States should strive to collaborate through FAO and through bilateral and multilateral arrangements in research, training and the production of information and promotional material.
  • States should report on the progress of the assessment, development and implementation of their NPOA-SEABIRDS as part of their biennial reporting to FAO on the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.
  • FAO will support States in the implementation of the IPOA-SEABIRDS.
  • FAO will support development and implementation of NPOA-SEABIRDS through specific, in-country technical assistance projects.
  • FAO will, through COFI, report biennially on the state of progress in the implementation of the IPOA-SEABIRDS.

Legal foundation

IPOA-SEABIRDS is voluntary. It has been elaborated within the framework of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries as envisaged by Article 2 (d). All concerned States are encouraged to implement it.

Legal text of IPOA-SEABIRDS

The term "State" includes Members and non-members of FAO and applies mutatis mutandis also to "fishing entities" other than States.

Funding

The IPOAs are to be implemented by countries. As a consequence, their implementation should be funded by countries. The FAO Regular Programme funds only a "watching brief" on implementation, and the monitoring of the implementation and reporting to COFI.   

Through its "International Conservation and Management of Fishery Resources" project, FAO also receives from the Government of Japan extra-budgetary funds to support the implementation of some of the IPOAs.

 
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