Has the IPOA-Seabirds been effective in the conservation of threatened seabirds? A review of National Plans of Action
In 1999 the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Committee on Fisheries (COFI), adopted the International Plan of Action for Reducing Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries (IPOA-Seabirds). The IPOA-Seabirds is a voluntary instrument, and relates to States that conduct longline fishing within their jurisdictions and on the high seas. It stipulates that countries with an identified seabird bycatch problem should adopt a National Plan of Action - Seabirds (NPOA-S). In 2009 the FAO adopted Technical Guidelines for the IPOA-Seabirds which recommend NPOAs also be extended to cover other relevant fishing gears, including trawls and gillnets. In 2014 96 of COFI’s 136 Member States reported they had longline, trawl and/or gillnet fishing conducted within their jurisdiction. Despite this, only 10 States had prepared a NPOA-S, with a further four other ‘Plans prepared by either a Member Organization, Fishing Entity or regional government. Seven of the existing Plans have been prepared by ACAP Parties; Ecuador, France, Norway, Peru, Spain and the United Kingdom have yet to do so. The existing plans were assessed against FAO’s Technical Guidelines for IPOA-S, and scored against a 10-point scale, where a score of 10 represented full compliance with the guidelines. The results of this assessment will be presented, together with suggested potential updates to plans to help strengthen their conformity with the FAO Technical Guidelines. However, conformity with the Guidelines does not strictly relate to effectiveness in reducing bycatch. The relative importance placed on a NPOA-S will vary between States due to a range of factors, including the strength of national legislation related to conservation of the marine environment and management of fisheries. Therefore, it is feasible that a NPOA-Seabird scores highly in terms of compliance with the Guidelines but the implementation of the plan is poor. A comprehensive analysis of the implementation of each plan would be required to assess their effectiveness in reducing the bycatch of albatrosses and petrels.
RECOMMENDATIONS It is recommended that the Working Group: 1. Encourages ACAP Parties that do not have a National Plan to prepare a plan that fully complies with FAO’s Technical Guidelines for the IPOA-S. 2. Encourages Parties with an existing NPOA-s to review existing plans and strengthen them, as applicable, to ensure full compliance with the Technical Guidelines. 3. Conducts a comprehensive analysis of the implementation of each plan within the intersessional period to assess their effectiveness in reducing the bycatch of albatrosses and petrels.