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Tamini L.L.,Albatross Task Force Argentina | Chavez L.N.,Albatross Task Force Argentina | Gongora M.E.,Subsecretaria de Pesca | Gongora M.E.,National University of la Patagonia | And 3 more authors.
Polar Biology | Year: 2015

Seabird bycatch represents one of the main threats to vulnerable seabird populations, particularly albatross and petrels, and requires urgent conservation management interventions at a global scale. We studied seabird mortality associated with demersal factory trawl vessels that target Argentine Hake Merluccius hubbsi along the Argentine Patagonian Shelf and tested the efficacy of bird-scaring lines as a seabird bycatch mitigation measure. From November 2008 to June 2010, dedicated seabird observers recorded three sources of seabird mortality: entanglements with the trawl net; collisions with the trawl cables (corpses hauled aboard); and collisions with trawl cables (birds observed killed or injured). During 141 days and 389 hauls, we recorded 17 seabird species associated with vessels, ten of which interacted with fishing gear. The most vulnerable species was the black-browed albatross (Thalassarche melanophris). From 41 recovered corpses, we identified black-browed albatross mortality rates of 0.013 and 0.093 birds/haul for net entanglement and cable collision (corpses hauled aboard), respectively. From counts of birds killed or injured by cable collisions, we estimate a black-browed albatross mortality rate of 0.237 birds/h. We use official fishing effort data to consider the potential scale of seabird mortality for the entire fleet and identify the main factors contributing to seabird mortality in this fishery. Bird-scaring lines eliminated seabird mortality caused by collisions with trawl cables and are recommended as a short- to medium-term measure to mitigate seabird mortality in this fishery. © 2015 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg

Martin G.R.,University of Birmingham | Crawford R.,BirdLife International Marine Programme
Global Ecology and Conservation | Year: 2015

Sensory capacities and perceptual challenges faced by gillnet bycatch taxa result from fundamental physiological limits on vision and constraints arising within underwater environments. To reduce bycatch in birds, sea turtles, pinnipeds and blue-water fishes, individuals must be alerted to the presence of nets using visual cues. Cetaceans will benefit but they also require warning with cues detected through echolocation. Characteristics of a visual warning stimulus must accommodate the restricted visual capacities of bycatch species and the need to maintain vision in a dark adapted state when foraging. These requirements can be provided by a single type of visual warning stimulus: panels containing a pattern of low spatial frequency and high internal contrast. These are likely to be detectable across a range of underwater light environments by all bycatch prone taxa, but are unlikely to reduce the catch of target fish species. Such panels should also be readily detectable by cetaceans using echolocation. Use of sound signals to warn about the presence of gillnets is not recommended because of the poor sound localisation abilities of bycatch taxa, cetaceans excepted. These warning panels should be effective as a mitigation measure for all bycatch species, relatively easy to deploy and of low cost. © 2014 The Authors.

PubMed | University of St. Andrews and BirdLife International Marine Programme
Type: | Journal: Conservation biology : the journal of the Society for Conservation Biology | Year: 2016

Gillnet fisheries are widely thought to pose a conservation threat to many populations of marine mammals, seabirds and turtles. Gillnet fisheries also support a significant proportion of small-scale fishing communities worldwide. Despite a large number of studies on protected species bycatch in recent decades, relatively few have examined the underlying causes of bycatch, and fewer still have looked at the issue from a multi-taxon perspective. We used three bibliographic databases and one search engine to identify studies by year of publication and taxon. The majority of studies on the mechanisms of gillnet bycatch are not accessible through mainstream published literature sources. Many are reported in technical papers, government reports and University theses. We reviewed over 600 published and unpublished studies of bycatch where causal or correlative factors were considered, and identified therein 28 environmental, operational, technical and behavioral factors that might plausibly be associated with higher or lower bycatch rates of the three taxa. Of the factors considered, 11 were found to have been associated with potential bycatch reduction in two out of the three taxa, while three factors (water depth, mesh size and net height) were associated with trends in bycatch rate for all three taxa. These findings provide a basis to guide further experimental work to test hypotheses about which factors most influence bycatch rates, and to explore ways of managing fishing activities and/or improving gear design to minimize the incidental capture of species of conservation concern, whilst ensuring the viability of the fisheries concerned. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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