Threats of Longline Fishing to Global Albatross Diversity

Petrossian GA, Pires SF, Sosnowski M, et al (2022) Threats of Longline Fishing to Global Albatross Diversity. Animals 12:887.

Albatrosses are among the most threatened seabird species. Often entangled in gillnets or hooked while longline fishing gear is being set, albatrosses are affected by fishing. This is assumed to be especially true in cases where illegal longline fishing vessels are involved, as they are less likely to implement the bycatch mitigation measures implemented to reduce the risk of albatrosses being caught on their hooks. This is the assumption that was tested in the current study, which uses environmental criminology as its guiding theoretical framework. Using the spatial units of one-half-degree by one-half-degree longitude/latitude cells, this research examined the patterns of concentration of potentially illegal longlining efforts and their relationships to commercially sought-out and illegally caught (i.e., CRAAVED—concealable, removable, abundant, accessible, valuable, enjoyable, disposable) fish species concentrations, as well as their effects on the average risk of albatrosses. The results indicated that (a) potentially illegal longlining activity is spatially concentrated; (b) this concentration is exhibited in areas with the highest concentrations of the presence of CRAAVED fish; and (c) the average risk score of albatrosses, as measured by their International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List status, is significantly higher in the areas where illegal longlining vessels are found controlling for the activities of legal longlining vessels. These findings provide strong grounding that illegal longline fishing poses a particularly serious threat to the survival of albatrosses. These activities, however, are not randomly spread across the vast oceans, but rather are highly spatially concentrated. Therefore, the bird conservation lobby should work closely with regional fisheries management organizations to devise and implement targeted interventions aimed at reducing potential illegal longline fishing, which, in turn, will likely have positive effects on albatrosses.