Focusing on the human dimensions to reduce protected species bycatch

Ayers AL, Leong K (2022) Focusing on the human dimensions to reduce protected species bycatch. Fisheries Research 254:106432.

Bycatch is a major fisheries management issue that negatively impacts global marine ecosystems. Reducing protected species bycatch can be difficult because most commercial fishing gear is nonselective, many marine species occupy similar habitats as target species, and significant investments and collaborations are needed to test bycatch reduction solutions. Bycatch has been reduced in many fisheries, but could be further reduced using novel sociotechnical solutions. Sociotechnical solutions focus on how social and technical practices are embedded in complex social and economic systems, with a focus on human agency and context. To determine if sociotechnical solutions could apply to bycatch reduction, we examined a case study from the Hawai‘i longline fleet. We interviewed 38 captains and crewmembers to better understand the potential of sociotechnical solutions to further reduce bycatch, but also any social barriers that may impede their adoption. Although the Hawai‘i longline fleet is a leader in bycatch reduction and mitigation, our interviews uncovered how the fleet could further reduce bycatch through enhanced communication, relocation to avoid aggregations of protected species, and other innovative ideas developed by fishers. Overall, our research supports previous studies that emphasized the importance of addressing the human dimensions of bycatch reduction, but also identified some social barriers to sociotechnical solutions. To accomplish ecosystem-based fisheries management goals, scientists, managers, and fishers must acknowledge and address these social barriers and provide necessary institutional support to continue reducing bycatch in global commercial fisheries.