Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

The USA publishes a progress report on the implementation of its National Plan of Action – Seabirds

ACAP's Seabird Bycatch Working Group was informed at its meeting last week in Uruguay that the United States had published earlier this year a report on the implementation of its National Plan of Action for Reducing the Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries (NPOA-Seabirds).

The report highlights advancements made by the United States toward the objectives of the 2001 U.S. NPOA-Seabirds.  Since 2001, the United States has improved research, outreach, education and domestic management of seabird bycatch, resulting in a significant decrease in seabird bycatch in its domestic fisheries.

The report’s Executive Summary follows:

“Implementation of the United States National Plan of Action for Reducing the Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries highlights advancements made by the United States toward the objectives of the 2001 U.S. National Plan of Action for Reducing the Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries (NPOA-Seabirds).  Since 2001, the United States has improved research, outreach and education on, and domestic management of incidental seabird catch, resulting in a significant decrease in seabird incidental catch in its domestic fisheries.

Interagency collaboration has been a large part of U.S. success in reducing the incidental catch of seabirds.  Three different agencies – the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Department of State – play roles in implementing the NPOA-Seabirds by seeking to reduce incidental catch through policy development and research, as well as a variety of domestic and international measures. These agencies have made great efforts to coordinate research and action on seabird incidental catch mitigation. Management measures taken by the United States include the introduction of comprehensive regulations for avoiding the incidental catch of seabirds in a number of domestic fisheries.  Such regulations have resulted in a halving of or even tenfold decrease in incidental catch numbers in certain fisheries.  Additionally, the United States actively supports the adoption of seabird management measures in international forums, and is pursuing accession of the Agreement to on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP).  Finally, the United States has implemented a number of outreach and educational tools to combat seabird bycatch by developing easy reference guides and manuals for fishermen and fisheries observers.

Despite the strides it has made in reducing incidental seabird catch in longline fisheries, the United States recognizes that there are further steps and initiatives it can take.  Among these include the recognition that while incidental catch may have decreased in longline fisheries, it is still an issue in gillnet and trawl fisheries. In addition to further research and interagency collaboration, the United States will strive to emphasize the importance of seabird populations in ecosystem-based management systems and continue to promote global seabird conservation through the adoption of international measures.”

Laysan Albatross and chick on Midway Atoll, photograph by Pete Leary

Selected Literature:

National Marine Fisheries Service 2001.  Final United States National Plan of Action for Reducing the Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries.  Silver Spring: National Marine Fisheries Service.  126 pp.

NOAA Fisheries 2014.  Implementation of the U.S. National Plan of Action for Reducing the Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries 2014.  [Silver Spring]: NOAA Fisheries  20 pp.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 15 September 2014

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