Assessing the Uncertainty of Total Seabird Bycatch Estimates Synthesized from Multiple Sources with a Scenario Analysis from the Western and Central Pacific
Each year, billions of seabirds undertake migrations, connecting remote regions of the world, potentially synchronizing population fluctuations among distant areas. This connectedness has implications for the uncertainty calculations of the total seabird bycatch estimate at a regional/global scale. Globally, fisheries bycatch poses a major problem in fishery management, and estimating the uncertainty associated with a regional/global seabird bycatch estimate is important because it characterizes the accuracy and reliability of the fisheries’ impact on the seabird populations. In this study, we evaluate different assumptions underlying the estimation of the variability of the total seabird bycatch at a regional/global scale based on local assessment reports. In addition to theoretical analysis, we also simulate multiple spatially distant separately managed areas with relatively low levels of observer coverage, based on bycatch data from the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission convention area. The results show that assuming a completely synchronized variation produced the most conservative uncertainty estimate and it also missed an opportunity to improve the precision. Simplified correlation structures also failed to capture the complex dynamics of bycatch rates among spatially distant areas. It is recommended to empirically estimate the correlation of bycatch rates between each pair of sources based on bycatch rate time series.