Seabird longline bycatch reduction devices increase target catch while reducing bycatch: A meta-analysis
Mortality during commercial fishing activities is a significant threat to many imperiled seabird species, and myriad technologies have been developed to reduce mortality during longline fishing operations. However, individual studies have never been combined in a quantitative manner to determine if seabird bycatch reduction devices (BRD) have a detrimental effect upon target species catch. We performed a meta-analysis of the longline fishery BRD literature to determine the general impact of BRD technology upon commercial fishing operations. There were relatively few papers with data suitable for a meta-analysis (15), therefore we pooled studies in the analysis with BRD and fishery related metrics included as covariates. Overall, we found no reduction in target fish catch. In fact, we found an increase in target catch of 9% (95% CI [1,17]) with BRD use. We show that this increase occurs while BRDs reduce seabird bycatch by 89% (95% CI [82,93]). These patterns do not change with respect to geographic location or BRD type, indicating that efforts to reduce seabird bycatch are generally effective under different conditions. Our review identifies research needed to ensure the generality of our findings and to better understand the impacts of BRD implementation upon seabird conservation and commercial fisheries.