How to reduce seabird bycatch during fishing activities?

Wandering Albatross © Prince Images

What is a seabird bycatch? It’s a missed opportunity for the fisherman and a fatal outcome for the bird.

Marine mammals, sea turtles, fish and seabirds are threatened by bycatch. Bycatch refers to those species that were inadvertently caught during fishing activities and includes incidental catches of endangered species.

Seabirds are most often caught on longline hooks or entangled in nets. Therefore, several activities and measures are being implemented around the world to mitigate and/or reduce it.

In countries where seabird bycatch during fishing is a big problem, fishermen are looking for solutions to to reduce damage to fishing gear, losses of bait on hooks and preserve the balance of the marine ecosystem, thus ensuring a targeted catch of fish. In Greece, fishermen who are fishing near large colonies of birds voluntarily began to set longlines at night, because then the activity of seabirds is reduced, like the possibility of mutual interaction.

In order for measures to be effective and to ensure that they are implemented by fishermen, they should be simple, suitable for a particular type of fishing, profitable, practical, safe, accompanied by economic or social incentives.

Measures to reduce seabird bycatch fordifferent types of fishing gear were explained by colleague Ana Miletić in an article for the website of the Life Artina project -> HERE

Testing LED lights for gillnets (Source: Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries)

As part of the Life Artina project, Association Sunce, in cooperation with fishermen from the islands of Vis, Korčula and Lastovo, is testing measures of using modified fishing gear.

LED lights for gillnets, additional weight for demersal longlines, and hookpods for releasing hooks of pelagic longlines under the sea are being tested.

Hookpods for releasing hooks of pelagic longlines under the sea (Source: https://www.acap.aq/fr/actualites/dernieres-nouvelles/4191-new-trials-for-the-hookpod-mini-planned-for-south-africa-in-2022)

The purpose of the testing is to collect data on the implementation of measures and results, the impact on the targeted fish catch, practicality, advantages and disadvantages, comparison with standard fishing gear, and fishermen’s opinion on the possibility of future usageof such gear in Croatia.

Solutions for reducing seabird bycatch (https://www.eaaflyway.net/towards-seabird-safe-fisheries-global-efforts-and-solutions/)

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