Work at the fisheries Convention on the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna meeting on bycatch and ecological effects of fishing has progressed in Tokyo in March. The group met to consider ways of reducing seabird, turtle and shark bycatch in fishing for southern bluefin tuna around the southern Ocean.
Albatross and petrel bycatch remains a tricky issue for the management of tuna fisheries, with many birds annually killed in longline fisheries due to their being captured on fishing hooks. Around 3 billion tuna hooks are set annually, and albatrosses captured may number up to 100 thousand annually. Incidental mortality in tuna fisheries affects many seabird species, many of which are threatened with extinction.
A report commissioned by the Ministry of Fisheries, and prepared by Te Papa scientists and collaborators was presented. The report discussed how data on seabird distributions, fishing data, and information about bird-catch rates could be used to identify which areas and times of fishing were most problematic for tuna fishing in the Indian and Pacific Ocean areas. The study used data and methods developed over many years with collaborating parties BirdLife International and Sextant Technology, along with inputs from the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP), the Ministry of Fisheries, NIWA, Centre Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique in France and a number of seabird researchers nationally and internationally.
The CCSBT working group agreed to continue work on this project, and will seek to refine the analyses using the most recent dataset available about bird distributions and fishing activity, including important datasets held by BirdLife International derived from satellite tracking of seabirds.
By Susan Waugh, Senior Curator Natural Environment