Results of a Workshop on Reduction of Bycatch of Seabirds, Sea Turtles, and Sea Mammals in Gillnets

Wiedenfeld DA, Crawford R, Pott CM (2015) Results of a Workshop on Reduction of Bycatch of Seabirds, Sea Turtles, and Sea Mammals in Gillnets. American Bird Conservanct and Birdlife International

The focus of the workshop was on technical methods of bycatch reduction of sea turtles, seabirds, and sea mammals in gillnets. The workshop was carried out 21-23 January 2015 with 35 participants from seven countries and 17 organizations, representing collective expertise from fishermen, academia, government employees, and conservation Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).

The workshop objectives were to identify proposed gillnet bycatch mitigation methods, develop plans for trialing those methods, estimate the costs of trials, and identify teams who would work to carry out the trials.

The workshop began with a series of presentations to provide background for the discussions to follow. This included presentations on where gillnet bycatch is known to occur; on the factors that influence bycatch probability; on the sensory abilities of the bycatch species to detect various potential mitigation methods; and on the results of previous workshops on gillnet bycatch reduction. Presentations also described bycatch reduction methods now being trialed and gave a case study of successful technical mitigation for seabirds in the US Pacific Northwest.

Workshop subgroups proposed bycatch reduction methods that can be placed into two categories:
-Active methods, including net lights and pingers in various configurations.
-Passive methods, such as high-contrast panels placed within nets, streamers, or colored nets or portions of nets.

To encourage industry support for such measures, a key aspect of all proposed methods was that they should maintain the level of target catch, to the extent possible, while reducing bycatch.

Based on the proposed mitigation methods, workshop subgroups proposed a set of trial projects. For each project or set of projects, a region was identified where the project could be carried out, ensuring:
-Adequate bycatch levels to detect the efficacy of mitigation measures.
-The necessary infrastructure and partners present to carry out trials.
-Representation across the taxa groups.
-Good prospects of financial support for the project.