Bycatch mitigation of protected and threatened species in tuna purse seine and longline fisheries
Bycatch and mortality in fishing gear poses a conservation threat worldwide to many marine species. Resource managers and conservation scientists face challenges in identifying bycatch mitigation solutions that work for multiple taxa while maintaining acceptable levels of target fish catch. The most successful mitigation measures to address bycatch concerns are those that (1) minimize bycatch with limited or no impact on target species catch, (2) have been proven through at-sea experimental research, (3) are practical, affordable, and easy to use, and (4) do not risk the safety of the fishing vessel crew or the bycaught animals. We conducted a review of mitigation measures in fishing gears that target tuna and tuna-like species and that either prevent capture of non-target species in fishing gear or facilitate alive post-capture release, and evaluated these against 4 defined criteria: effective, proven, practical, and safe. This paper outlines the most effective bycatch mitigation measures, as based upon the best scientific information available, in commercial and artisanal pelagic longline and purse seine fisheries, specifically those that target tuna and tuna-like species. This review includes information on gear and operational changes to fishing practices that reduce bycatch for protected and threatened species across taxonomic groups, with a focus on cetaceans, sea turtles, seabirds, sharks, and istiophorid billfishes. The information provided can guide future research and management efforts in Regional Fisheries Management Organizations that are specific to tuna fishing and that aim to minimize impacts to protected and threatened species while maintaining viable commercial fisheries.