Multifaceted effects of bycatch mitigation measures on target/non-target species for pelagic longline fisheries and consideration for bycatch management
The pelagic longline fishery, in an effort to reduce bycatch of sea turtles, have developed and deployed fisheries bycatch mitigation techniques such as replacing J/tuna hooks and squid bait with circle hooks and whole fish bait. However, little emphasis has been placed on the side effects of bycatch mitigation measures on endangered species other than target bycatch species. Several previous studies of the side effects have been marred by lack of control for the covariates. Here, based on long-term data obtained from research cruises by a pelagic longline vessel, we examined the effects of using circle hooks and whole fish bait to replace squid bait on the fishing mortality of target and non-target fishes, and also bycatch species. A quantitative evaluation analysis of our results, based on a Bayesian approach, showed the use of circle hooks to increase mouth hooking in target and bycatch species, and their size to be proportional to the magnitude of the effect. Although deploying circle hooks increased catch per unit effort (CPUE) and fishing mortality per unit effort (MPUE), changing the bait species from squid to fish clearly had a far greater impact on shark mortality than the use of circle hooks. Because the impact of the introduction of bycatch mitigation measures on species other than the focused bycatch species is non-negligible, a quantitative assessment of bycatch mitigation-related fishing mortality is critical before introducing such measures.