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Bycatch in Longline Fisheries for Tuna and Tuna-like Species: a Global Review of Status and Mitigation Measures

2014 FAO

This publication is the third in a series on bycatch in global tuna fisheries. Dealing with longline fisheries, its scope is defined taxonomically to comprise only non-tuna and non-tuna-like species.

The history of longline fishing illustrates the role of new technologies, the expansion of fishing grounds, and the operational characteristics of the fleets in shaping today’s fishery. More recently, management regulations, the price of oil, the cost of labour, and market demand have also exerted a n influence. No more than 23 percent of the tuna in each ocean is longline-caught. However, there may be up to 7 500 tuna longliners globally with almost 60 percent of them less than 24 m in length.

Available data suggest that elasmobranch catches have fallen 14 percent since their peak in 2003. In longline fisheries, shark catch rates may be determined by bait type, soak time, hook shape, leader length and material, depth at which the hook is fished, and whether special gear is deployed to targ et sharks.

Vulnerability to hooking, and resilience to haulback and handling, vary by species, size, area and fleet operational practices. Tuna regional fisheries management organizations (t-RFMOs) assess the status of shark populations but data limitations often hinder firm conclusions.

There is little information on the implementation or effectiveness of finning bans and no-retention measures. Mitigation measures have been tested but results vary. Six of the seven species of sea turtles are th reatened with extinction, and while longline fisheries may have less impact than net-based fisheries, significant populationlevel impacts may be occurring in some regions. [..]

Download the Technical Paper here.