Data collection guidelines for observer programmes to improve knowledge of fishery impacts on ACAP-listed species 2021
The incidental catch of seabirds associated with fishing operations, especially in longline and trawl fisheries, is considered one of the greatest threats to ACAP-listed species. The management of seabird-fisheries interactions, particularly the reduction of incidental mortality of seabirds in longline and trawl fisheries, is a critical component of ACAP. The ACAP Action Plan calls on the Advisory Committee to review and update on a regular basis data on the mortality of albatrosses and petrels in commercial and other relevant fisheries. Such an assessment relies on the effective collection, analyses and reporting of seabird bycatch and associated data by Parties, as well as by Regional Fishery Management Organisations (RFMOs) and other non-Party sources. It is well recognised that the implementation of observer programmes that include the collection and management of seabird bycatch and associated data, are the most effective means of monitoring fisheries performance with respect to seabird bycatch and use of mitigation measures. SBWG9 considered draft proposed data collection guidelines for possible adoption by ACAP (SBWG9 Doc 06). Whilst SBWG agreed that those guidelines may be referred to in the interim, a number of areas of improvement were recommended. The guidelines have correspondingly been modified and are provided in this paper. The changes include: clarifying which fishing methods are included and the intent to continually improve and expand the guidelines over time; separating Table 1 by fishing method and incorporating fields identified by the Common Oceans Tuna Project Seabird Bycatch Assessment; considering other seabird species and adding FAO codes to Annex 1; and adding a warp strike data collection protocol as a new Annex. Complementary draft guidelines for electronic monitoring systems have also been developed for consideration by SBWG (SBWG10 Doc 14). This development is reflected in these guidelines, and it is important that a consistent approach, for example in recommending which data fields are critical, is taken between the two sets of guidelines where data collection fields overlap.