Bycatches of endangered, threatened and protected species in marine fisheries
Bycatch remains one of the most significant fisheries issues in the world and its monitoring and reporting is now expected in many regions. This paper provides a global synthesis of the data that are available on one of the most controversial components of bycatch, that associated with the capture and discarding of endangered, threatened and protected (ETP) species in marine commercial and artisanal fisheries. We examine the available literature regarding estimates for the key taxa in this category of bycatch (seabirds, turtles, sea snakes, marine mammals, sharks, rays and teleosts) and use the data to try to provide a total global estimate. We estimate (albeit quite imprecisely) that at least 20 million individuals of such species are discarded annually throughout the world. However, there remain far too many gaps and uncertainties across fisheries and regions in the information to provide any robustness (or variance) around such an estimate, nor to determine the actual fates of these animals (many may survive). This is exacerbated because: (1) the occurrences of such species are often rare and controversial and so go either unnoticed and/or unrecorded; (2) different levels of protection are afforded to different ETP species in different countries and fisheries and; (3) discarding practices vary greatly across a hierarchy of spatio-temporal scales and according to individual fishing conditions and procedures—the latter affecting actual mortalities. Nevertheless, there have been major initiatives established in recent years to provide better data on such interactions in addition to novel fishing methods and practices that reduce them and also improve the survival of discarded individuals. This paper discusses the data currently available and the quite significant gaps that remain.