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Common Oceans - A partnership for sustainability in the ABNJ

Interactive Workshop Pilots New Tool for Bycatch Problem-Solving in Tuna Fisheries

8 June 2018

No matter how precise the fishing operation, catching tuna on the open ocean often results in unwanted interactions with sea turtles, seabirds, marine mammals or sharks.  Finding ways of avoiding or reducing such interactions, while maintaining the ability to effectively target commercial species, is one of the greatest challenges in sustainable fisheries. 

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Workshop participants at SPC headquarters in Nouméa, New Caledonia.

Sharing information on the fishing techniques that work and don't work is an important first step in tackling bycatch.  The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission's (WCPFC) new Bycatch Management Information System (BMIS) aims to promote sharing through making it easier to access and assimilate a rapidly growing body of knowledge.  The BMIS compiles a variety of bycatch resource materials—from identification cards and safe release guidelines, to management studies and mitigation trials, within a single reference system.  Sylvain Caillot, who leads the BMIS development team at the Pacific Community (SPC) notes "the new BMIS website has already been accessed by more than 4,300 users and appears at the very top of several search engines". However, like many internet-based tools, getting the word out to all potential users is essential to harnessing the full power of the application. 

To introduce BMIS and obtain feedback on its performance, as well as illustrate how it can help address some of the bycatch issues facing the WCPFC, the Common Oceans ABNJ Tuna Project held a Bycatch Problem-solving Workshop on 28-30 May 2018 at SPC headquarters in Nouméa, New Caledonia.  A total of 27 participants representing eleven WCPFC member countries and participating territories, complemented by seven inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations, worked through a series of group exercises using BMIS.  Topics included sea turtle and seabird mitigation evaluations as well as the development of shark and seabird safe release guidelines.  The mix of participants included experienced bycatch scientists, conservation advocates and a longline vessel captain, making for lively and informative discussions.  According to one participant "the interactive nature of the workshop allowed for information and knowledge sharing throughout the three days across all of the topics. The mixture of group activities and presentations worked really well."

Workshop report is available here.

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Screenshot of the Bycatch Management Information System (BMIS)

This workshop was facilitated by Drs Shelley Clarke and Kathrin Hett of the Common Oceans ABNJ Tuna Project.  This project, implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and funded by the Global Environment Facility, harnesses the efforts of a large and diverse array of partners, including the five tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs), governments, inter- and non- governmental organizations, and the private sector to achieve responsible, efficient and sustainable tuna production and biodiversity conservation.

For additional information, contact:

  • Dr Shelley Clarke, Common Oceans ABNJ Tuna Project Technical Coordinator-Sharks and Bycatch | shelley.clarke@wcpfc.int
Common Oceans GEF