The Factors Influencing Albatross Interactions in the Hawaii Longline Fishery: Towards Identifying Drivers and Quantifying Impacts
NOAA Workshop 7–9 November 2017
The Hawaii longline fishery has been required to use seabird mitigation measures under the Pacific Pelagic Fishery Management Plan (current Fishery Ecosystem Plan, or FEP) since 2001. In the past decade since the successful implementation of seabird mitigation measures, the fishery has seen a gradual increasing trend in Black-footed (Phoebastria nigripes, BFAL) and Laysan (P. immutabilis, LAAL) albatross interactions, with higher rates of Black-footed albatross interactions since 2015. A published analysis conducted by Gilman and colleagues (2016) using data from October 2004 to May 2014, indicated that albatross interaction rates significantly increased during years of higher annual mean multivariate El Niño index (MEI), suggesting that oceanographic changes may have contributed to these changes in albatross catch rates. This analysis also showed a significant increasing trend in the number of albatross attending fishing vessels which may have contributed to the increasing catch rates. Moreover, the higher interaction rates observed during the recent El Niño event (2015–2016) further underscore the potential links between ocean conditions and albatross longline interactions. While albatross interactions in the Hawaii longline fishery remain well below pre-mitigation levels, the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, at its 166th Meeting in June 2016, recommended further research to improve understanding of interaction rates in the fishery. On 7–9 November 2017, in coordination with NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office and Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, the Council convened a workshop to explore the potential drivers and implications of the higher albatross interaction rates observed in 2015–2016. These were explored in the context of longer-term oceanographic variability, shifts in fishery effort and distribution, changes in albatross at-sea distribution, and albatross demography and population trends. Specifically, the workshop focused on four objectives: 1) review recent increased interactions in the Hawaii longline fishery; 2) explore possible factors responsible for this increase; 3) evaluate albatross population impacts; and 4) provide input for future data collection, analyses, and modeling.