Fish and birds in Tokyo

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.

See BirdLife Internationals Save-the-Albatross website for source of these statistics

Meeting of specialist on bycatch of seabirds, sharks and turtles at the CCSBT Working Group in Tokyo on 28 - 30 March 2012, at which New Zealand scientists, including Te Papa researchers were participants. Photo: Susan Waugh

Meeting of specialist on bycatch of seabirds, sharks and turtles at the CCSBT Working Group in Tokyo on 28 - 30 March 2012, at which New Zealand scientists, including Te Papa researchers were participants. Photo: Susan Waugh

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.

A figure from seabird ecological risk assessment analyses indicating the density per square kilometre of species around the Southern Ocean. This shows a high density particularly in the New Zealand area. The study presented by Te Papa researchers and collaborators to the Convention for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna working group examined which areas and species were most at risk of adverse effects of longline fishing for tuna. Image: after Waugh et al. 2012.

A figure from seabird ecological risk assessment analyses indicating the density per square kilometre of species around the Southern Ocean. This shows a high density particularly in the New Zealand area. The study presented by Te Papa researchers and collaborators to the Convention for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna working group examined which areas and species were most at risk of adverse effects of longline fishing for tuna. Image: after Waugh et al. 2012.

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.

Tuna for sale in Tsukiji market in Tokyo, March 2012. Photo: Susan Waugh.

Tuna for sale in Tsukiji market in Tokyo, March 2012. Photo: Susan Waugh.

By Susan Waugh, Senior Curator Natural Environment

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