Comparing Effectiveness of Experimental and Implemented Bycatch Reduction Measures: the Ideal and the Real
Fishers, scientists, and resource managers have made substantial progress in reducing bycatch of sea turtles, seabirds, and marine mammals through physical modifications to fishing gear. Many bycatch avoidance measures have been developed and tested successfully in controlled experiments, which have led to regulated implementation of modified or new fishing gear. Nevertheless, successful bycatch experiments may not translate to effective mitigation in commercial fisheries because experimental conditions are relaxed in commercial fishing operations. Such a difference between experimental results and real-world results with fishing fleets may have serious consequences for management and conservation of protected species taken as bycatch. We evaluated preimplementation experimental measures and postimplementation efficacy from primary and gray literature for three case studies: acoustic pingers that warn marine mammals of the presence of gill nets, turtle excluder devices that reduce bycatch of turtles in trawls, and various measures to reduce seabird bycatch in longlines. Three common themes to successful implementation of bycatch reduction measures are long-standing collaborations among the fishing industry, scientists, and resource managers; pre- and postimplementation monitoring; and compliance via enforcement and incentives.