A Draft Seabird Bycatch Conservation Measure for Tuna Commissions
To date, ACAP has provided advice to international tuna commissions on seabird bycatch mitigation options for the fisheries they manage in the form of reports or tables updating and summarizing the results of recent research on mitigation technologies (ACAP Seabird Bycatch Working Group 2010). The assumption is that this information will be crafted into a new or revised seabird conservation measure by tuna commission committees, working groups or staff with unknown technical expertise of seabird bycatch mitigation. This paper proposes that, in addition to research summaries, ACAP also provide very specific advice to tuna commissions in the form of a draft conservation measure that details ACAPs advice on best practice mitigation to minimize seabird bycatch based on the most current research. We propose that an ACAP sanctioned Conservation Measure would ease the burden on tuna commissions and staff, lead to consistent conservation measures across tuna commissions, and provide unambiguous advice. This draft Conservation Measure for tuna fisheries in high risk areas of the upper latitudes of southern hemisphere oceans and is based on comprehensive testing of seabird bycatch mitigation techniques and practices in the South African tuna joint venture fishery (Melvin et al. 2010 and Melvin et al. 2011). We propose that this draft serve as a starting point for the Seabird Bycatch Working Group to finalize a recommended seabird bycatch conservation measure, which will serve as clear advice to tuna RFMOs from ACAP on seabird conservation in world tuna fisheries. A completed recommended Conservation Measure would address goals for seabird conservation, identify seabird bycatch hotspots, identify appropriate measures for large and small vessels, and identify appropriate mitigation measures for northern vs. southern hemisphere fisheries. Proposed Measure Longline fishing operations shall simultaneously weight all branchlines, deploy two streamer lines, and set all hooks exclusively at night while deploying longlines in high risk areas of the upper latitudes of southern hemisphere oceans to reduce the incidental morality to the lowest possible levels. Longline fishing operation should also manage bait and offal and deploy branchlines in such a way as to minimize seabird interactions.