Review of evidence of injuries sustained by fisheres in the course of using weighted lines in pelagic longline fisheries

McCormack E, Papworth W (2014) Review of evidence of injuries sustained by fisheres in the course of using weighted lines in pelagic longline fisheries. ACAP Seabird Bycatch Working Group, Punta del Este, Uruguay

Longline fishing poses a substantial threat to many endangered and threatened species of albatross and petrels. A number of techniques have been identified to mitigate the incidental catch of seabirds, including night setting, streamer lines, and the use of weighted lines. ACAP best practice advice is that the most successful mitigation measure is a combination of all three techniques. Despite the benefits there is reluctance by some fishers to use weighted lines due to safety concerns. Weighted lines have been reported to fly-back at high velocities when the line is broken under tension, becoming a highly dangerous projectile. These fly-back incidents have been the cause of at least 10 reported injuries and three reported fatalities between 1994 and 2014 in six jurisdictions.
The purpose of this report was to gain a better understanding of the occurrence of fly-back incidents and any trend over time as new gear technologies are developed. However it was found that reporting of fly-back incidents is relatively low and only 15 reported cases were found after an extensive search and contacting relevant authorities. It appears that the extent of this issue is greater than what is being reported and that there is a culture among fishers of not reporting such incidences. The investigation revealed that there are a number of approaches that can be taken to reduce and/or eliminate the incidence of fly-backs.
That the Seabird Bycatch Working Group requests the Advisory committee to:
1. Provide any other information on fly-back injuries not covered in this report;
2. Consider endorsing the strategies described to reduce the number of fly-back incidences (adequate training, use of personal safety equipment such as hard hats with mesh visors, and safer gear such as ‘Safe leads’, ‘Lumo leads’ and the ‘Yamazaki double weighted system); and
3. Consider how the reporting of fly-back incidences could be further encouraged.