Trialling the new hookpod-mini, configured to open at 20 m depth, in pelagic longline fisheries off southern Brazil (report & presentation)
Bycatch in pelagic longline fisheries is a major threat for albatrosses and petrels globally. Hookpods are an emerging bycatch mitigation technology, which capsules the point and barb of hooks to prevent seabirds from becoming hooked during line-setting. We trialled the new Hookpod-mini, configured to open at 20 m depth, in pelagic longline fisheries off southern Brazil. From July 2018 to November 2019, Projeto Albatroz and Albatross Task Force on-board observers monitored seven trips to check the effects of the Hookpod-min (attached at 3.5 m from the hook), compared to conventional gear (75 g weighted swivel attached at 3.5 m from the hook), on seabird and turtle bycatch and on target species catches. Monitored effort comprised 72 sets and 81,989 hooks, of which 45,289 (55%) were Hookpodmini and 36,700 (45%) were conventional gear. Generalized linear models (GLM) were applied to compare turtle bycatch and target species catches between the two gears. Two seabirds (black-browed albatrosses) were caught on the conventional gear (0.05 birds/1000 hooks) and none on the Hookpodmini gear. There was no significant effect of Hookpod-mini on turtle bycatch and target species catches. Our findings reinforce the effectiveness of the Hookpod as a seabird bycatch mitigation measure in pelagic longline fisheries, without increasing the bycatch of turtles neither reducing the catchability of target species. We recommend that the Working Group on Bycatch considers adding the Hookpod, both Hookpod-LED and Hookpod-mini, to the seabird bycatch mitigation measures recommended in Resolution C-11-02. And that it encourages further research on the performance and feasibility of Hookpods by CPCs, which shall submit to the IATTC any information derived from such efforts.