Earlier this year ACAP attended the 12th Meeting of the Ecology Related Species Working Group (ERSWG 12) of the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT). The meeting was held in Wellington, New Zealand over 21-24 March; ACAP was represented by Igor Debski, Vice-convenor of the ACAP Seabird Bycatch Working Group.
During the meeting seabirds and in particular seabird bycatch comprised an important part of the agenda, largely aimed to progress the assessment of the risks to ecological related species posed by fishing for Southern Bluefin Tuna Thunnus maccoyii (SBT). Seabird matters addressed during the meeting included:
- the status and trends of seabird species likely caught by SBT fisheries,
- the process for the elaboration of an ecological risk assessment,
- discussions on methods for calculating bycatch rates and total numbers of seabirds bycaught in SBT fisheries,
- an update of the ACAP best-practice advice to mitigate seabird bycatch in pelagic longline fisheries, and
- a review of tools and guidelines available for on-board observers, including the guide to improve seabird species identification developed by ACAP in collaboration with the Japan Fisheries Research Agency (now the National Research and Development Agency, Japan Fisheries Research and Education Agency).
Further collaboration between ACAP and CCSBT will include engagement with fishing nations to improve data collection, reporting and analysis, as well as providing advice during the process of developing a multi-year seabird strategy. ACAP tabled several papers at the meeting as listed below:
- CCSBT-ERS/1703/15. (ACAP & BirdLife International) An update on the status and trends of ACAP-listed albatrosses and petrels in the CCSBT area.
- CCSBT-ERS/1703/16. (ACAP) The development of ACAP seabird bycatch indicators, data needs, methodological approaches and reporting requirements.
- CCSBT-ERS/1703/17. (ACAP) Current ACAP advice for reducing the impact of pelagic longline fishing operations on seabirds.
- CCSBT-ERS/1703/18. (ACAP and BirdLife International) Summary of tools and guidelines available to assist observers in the identification of seabird species and handling of bycaught individuals.
Igor Debski, Vice-convenor, ACAP Seabird Bycatch Working Group, 25 May 2017