Reducing seabird bycatch in longline, trawl and gillnet fisheries
With an increasing number of seabird species, particularly albatross and petrels, becoming threatened, a reduction of fishery impacts on these species is essential for their future survival. Here, mitigation methods to reduce and avoid seabird bycatch are assessed in terms of their ability to reduce bycatch rates and their economic viability for longline, trawl and gillnet fisheries worldwide. Factors influencing the appropriateness and effectiveness of a mitigation device include the fishery, vessel, location, seabird assemblage present and season of year. As yet, there is no single magic solution to reduce or eliminate seabird bycatch across all fisheries: a combination of measures is required, and even within a fishery there is likely to be refinement of techniques by individual vessels in order to maximize their effectiveness at reducing seabird bycatch. In longline demersal and pelagic fisheries, a minimum requirement of line weighting that achieves hook sink rates minimizing seabird bycatch rates should be tailored with a combination of strategic offal and discard management, bird-scaring lines (BSLs) and night-setting, particulary in Southern Hemisphere fisheries. Urgent investigation is needed into more effective measures at reducing seabird interactions with trawl nets and gill nets. In trawl fisheries, a combination of offal and discard management, the banning of net monitoring cables, paired BSLs, and a reduction in the time the net is on or near the surface are likely to be the most effective in reducing seabird interactions with the warp cables and net. Few seabird bycatch reduction methods have been developed for gillnet fisheries, although increasing the visibility of the net has been shown to reduce seabird bycatch. Further studies are required to determine the efficacy of this technique and its influence on target species catch rates.