The implementation of ACAP Best Practice Advice to mitigate seabird bycatch in fisheries: Issues and options

Baker GB, Komyakova V, Wellbelove A, et al (2024) The implementation of ACAP Best Practice Advice to mitigate seabird bycatch in fisheries: Issues and options. Marine Policy 160:105879.

The Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP) is a multilateral agreement which strives to conserve albatrosses and petrels by coordinating international activities to mitigate threats to their populations. One of the major threats that seabirds face is fisheries-induced mortality, or bycatch. In recognition of the serious nature of this problem, ACAP established a Seabird Bycatch Working Group (SBWG) to advise on actions that will assist in the mitigation and reduction of seabird interactions with fisheries. The SBWG regularly examines the range of measures available that can minimise bycatch and has developed “best practice advice” (BPA), a suite of tools and methods for trawl and longline fisheries. This BPA has been widely promoted by ACAP Parties and others within jurisdictions and at Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) and CCAMLR other over the last 10 years. To assess the levels of implementation of ACAP’s BPA for industrial fisheries we employed both a qualitative and semi-quantitative multiple method research design that comprised content analysis of documents and meeting reports from ACAP meetings, a review of current seabird conservation measures of all tRFMOs that had members which were also ACAP parties, and by conducting a survey that asked 13 questions in relation to the uptake and adoption of ACAP BPA. We confined our analysis to pelagic longline and trawl fisheries within the jurisdictions of both ACAP parties and non-parties. Our research identified a number of key gaps in the uptake of the BPA guidelines in these fisheries. Complete uptake of BPA was poor by ACAP Parties both within their jurisdictions, and in high seas fisheries managed through RFMOs. For Parties, the level of uptake was difficult to assess accurately because reporting to the Agreement has thus far been inadequate for this purpose. Uptake of BPA in high seas fisheries by non-parties and RFMos was also poor and unlikely to improve while ACAP Parties are unable to demonstrate commitment to their use in all national fisheries. The study findings provided advice and recommendations on addressing impediments to uptake that could lead to improved management of seabird bycatch in commercial fisheries.