A decision support tool for integrated fisheries bycatch management
Also published as IOTC WPEB18 INF19.
Participatory decision tools enable stakeholders to reconcile conflicting natural resources management objectives. Fisheries targeting highly productive species can have profound impacts on co-occurring bycatch species with low fecundity and other life history traits that make them vulnerable to anthropogenic sources of mortality. This study developed a decision tool for integrated bycatch management for data-limited to data-rich fisheries, improving upon current piecemeal approaches. First, through a systematic literature review, participants compile a comprehensive database of methods to mitigate the catch and fishing mortality of threatened bycatch species. These mitigation methods are then categorized into tiers of a sequential mitigation hierarchy, where interventions that avoid capture are considered before those that minimize catchability, followed by methods that minimize fishing mortality, before approaches that offset residual impacts. The methods are also assembled within an evidence hierarchy, where findings from meta-analytic modelling studies are more robust and generalizable than from individual studies. The decision tool enables stakeholders to evaluate alternative bycatch management strategies’ efficacy at meeting specific and measurable objectives for mitigating the catch and mortality of bycatch and for costs from multispecies conflicts, economic viability, practicality and safety, while accounting for the fishery-specific feasibility of compliance monitoring of alternative bycatch management measures. Ongoing adaptation of the bycatch management framework addresses findings from performance assessments, updated evidence, new mitigation methods and changes to governance systems. The proposed decision tool therefore enables stakeholders to develop bycatch management frameworks that provide precautionary protection for the most vulnerable populations with acceptable tradeoffs.