Mitigating bycatch in tuna fisheries
Monitoring and managing fisheries bycatch is increasingly recognized as a critical component of robust fisheries management frameworks. This review, addressing this subject, begins by defining bycatch and analyzing the reasons it happens, from accidental to intentional discarding. It identifies the most common species composing bycatch of the main tuna fisheries using purse seine and longline gear. Considerations of options available to estimate bycatch, their potential biases and uncertainties, and ways to address these issues are discussed. The formulas used to estimate bycatch also point to the options to reduce them, lowering bycatch per unit of effort or lowering effort itself. It shows that a mean can be reduced by reducing all its component figures, or by eliminating the high values at the extreme of the distribution (i.e., where a small proportion of events causes a large proportion of the problem), a common issue in bycatch. A generic strategy is described that can be applied to all gears and fisheries, and it is then described for the fisheries of interest, showing examples of its application. These cover many mitigation actions based on gear and operational changes. Management options aiming at reducing bycatch are also mentioned. A detailed description of the ways the strategy has been implemented for purse seiners and longliners is provided. Finally, market strategies, education and awareness of stakeholders, mainly fishers, and some potential future developments are briefly described.