Optimal setting time and season increase the target and reduce the incidental catch in longline fisheries: a Bayesian beta mixed regression approach
Sustainable fisheries' managers increasingly seek to implement measures that reduce the mortality of threatened species while maintaining or increasing catch of target species. Our study proposed a simple management option for optimizing fishing over daily and seasonal scales to maximize catch success while protecting non-target species in pelagic longline fisheries. We used Bayesian beta mixed regression models to describe the effects of setting times and seasonality on catches in a pelagic longline fishery in the southwest South Atlantic Ocean (SWAO). Targeted species (swordfish, blue shark, and albacore tuna) are typically captured in fully nocturnal sets (started between 16 and 00 h), whereas shortfin mako shark and loggerhead turtles are typically captured during partially nocturnal sets (started between 00 and 04 h); probably a response to hook depth and circadian behaviours. The results suggest that it is feasible to use only fully nocturnal sets to target preferred species while reducing incidental catch of non-target species. The catch of target species was higher in austral winter, explained by the northward displacement of the subtropical convergence in the SWAO during this season. These results provide a baseline for bycatch mitigation strategies in pelagic longline fisheries at regional and global scales.