ACAP advice for reducing the impact of pelagic longline fishing operations on seabirds - 2018
The incidental mortality of seabirds, mostly albatrosses and petrels, in longline fisheries continues to be a serious global concern and was the major reason for the establishment of the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP). ACAP routinely reviews the scientific literature regarding seabird bycatch mitigation in fisheries, and on the basis of these reviews updates its best practice advice. The most recent review was conducted in September 2017 during the Eighth Meeting of the ACAP Seabird Bycatch Working Group. This document presents the outcome of that review and the summary advice pertaining to best practice measures for mitigating seabird bycatch in pelagic longline fisheries. Based on its most recent review, ACAP has confirmed that the combined use of weighted branch lines, bird scaring lines and night setting remains the best practice approach to mitigate seabird bycatch in pelagic longline fisheries. In addition, ACAP has since 2016 also endorsed the inclusion of hook-shielding devices in the suite of best practice mitigation measures. These devices encase the point and barb of baited hooks until a prescribed depth or immersion time has been reached (set to correspond to a depth beyond the diving range of most seabirds) thus preventing seabirds gaining access to the hooks and becoming caught during line setting. A set of performance criteria have been developed to assess whether candidate hook-shielding devices are considered best practice. On the basis of the September 2017 review, the only additional update to the ACAP best practice advice for reducing bycatch of seabirds in pelagic longline fisheries relates to recommendations concerning the aerial extent, streamer line configuration, and attachment height of bird scaring lines for small (<35m) vessels. WCPFC CMM 2017-06 is based largely on ACAP’s advice from before 2016. Bird scaring line specifications for small (<35m) pelagic longline vessels operating South of 30°S were revised in 2017 (CMM 2017-06 Annex 1 1b) and are consistent with this aspect of ACAP best practice advice. However, CMM 2017-06 does not reflect updated ACAP advice on line-weighting specifications (introduced in 2016); bird-scaring line specifications for the North Pacific vary substantially from ACAP’s advice on best practice and the CMM does not include the addition of hook-shielding devices recommended by ACAP as a best practice option.