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.

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