DRAFT REPORT: Developing robust multi-taxa bycatch mitigation measures for gillnets/drift nets in the Indian Ocean
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) held a technical workshop on multi-taxa bycatch mitigation focusing on drift/gillnets in collaboration with the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission from 29 – 31 August 2022, virtually via zoom platform. The workshop was attended by 86 participants on the first day, 76 on the second and 75 on the third day. The workshop had representation from independent experts, national country scientists, NGOs, IGOs, and civil society organisations from the Indian Ocean and other Oceans. The workshop was organised as a direct result of discussions held at the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC)’s 17th Working Party on Ecosystem and Bycatch for developing a proposal for a gillnet focused multi-taxa bycatch mitigation workshop which was endorsed by the IOTC – Scientific Committee (SC) in December 2021. The objective of the workshop was to undertake an evaluation of existing mitigation measures for their sustainability to reduce bycatch of multiple taxa in drift/gillnet fisheries (gears) and to scope and assess the feasibility of novel or experimental measures being developed for this purpose in the Indian Ocean. One of the secondary objectives of the workshop was to better understand the nature of using artificial lights as a potential mitigation tool considering that the IOTC has banned their use, which may be hampering efforts to reduce the ecological impacts of the gillnet fishery.
The workshop was designed to understand the current state of information and knowledge available on the extent of bycatch in drift/gillnet fisheries in the Indian Ocean. The agenda was designed to review the existing information and evaluate the effectiveness of the conservation and management measures that have been adopted by the IOTC. An in-depth discussion was held with regards to improving the data collection and reliability from gillnet fisheries considering that the majority of these vessels are small-scale and/or artisanal in nature. The IOTC Secretariat provided a snapshot of the quality of data available, such as catch-and-effort, size frequency and discards. It was discussed that the IOTC is responsible for the management of tuna and tuna-like species (16 species) across the Indian Ocean.
One of the key challenges associated with gillnet fisheries is their large contribution to the overall catch contribution of tuna and tuna-like species as gillnets account for almost 30% of overall catches of which a large majority (more than 75%) are taken on what are considered to be artisanal vessels...