Proposal for a Bycatch Data Exchange Protocol
A meeting of invited experts, convened in January 2015 in Keelung, Taiwan, to progress elements of the Work Plan agreed by the Joint Tuna RFMOs Technical Working Group-Bycatch, recommended that an existing data exchange format be used as the basis for summarizing data in each of the five tuna RFMOs. Compiling basic metadata across the tuna RFMOs aims at i) understanding and harmonizing tuna RFMO bycatch data holdings; ii) reviewing and improving bycatch data collection and reporting programmes ; and iii) planning for intra-and inter-RFMO analysis of bycatch rates and mitigation effectiveness. The proposed t-RFMO bycatch data exchange protocol (BDEP) consists of i) a summary of the total fishing effort and total observed effort for each area by fishery and year; and ii) a summary for the same strata (area, fishery and year) of observed captures, mortalities and live releases of various taxa known to be vulnerable to interactions with tuna fisheries. It is understood that a lack of taxonomic identification, spatial resolution constraints, scarce data holdings and other technical and policy issues may limit the data that some t-RFMOs can provide. Nevertheless, initiating a flow of summarized information and taking stock of existing datasets is an important first step toward harmonization and improved management. IOTC is invited to consider what bycatch data could be contributed to the BDEP.