Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas progresses seabird bycatch mitigation at a meeting in Portugal

The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) held an intersessional meeting of its Sub-Committee on Ecosystems last month in Olhão, Portugal.  The Albatross and Petrel Agreement was represented by the Convenor of its Seabird Bycatch Working Group, Anton Wolfaardt.

At the meeting progress was achieved in discussing the review process for the commission’s seabird bycatch mitigation measure (Rec 11-09 Supplemental Recommendation by ICCAT on Reducing Incidental By-Catch of Seabirds in ICCAT Longline Fisheries) as described in its report.

The meeting considered a paper prepared and presented by an ACAP intersessional group identifying the elements that should be incorporated into a review of ICCAT’s current seabird conservation measures. These elements include the extent to which ICCAT’s seabird conservation and management measures reflect best practice for pelagic longline fisheries and has appropriate spatial, temporal and vessel application; the availability and quality of the data available for a review; the degree of implementation by vessels (compliance); and the analysis and monitoring of seabird by-catch levels over time, most likely including reported by-catch rates (birds per 1000 hooks) and the total number of birds killed per tuna RFMO per year.

It was agreed that because Rec 11-09 came fully into force in July 2013 it would be premature to conduct the full assessessment in 2015. However, the Sub-Committee highlighted the importance of initiating work in preparation for the review.  The key elements to be progressed in 2015 include:

• Review the extent to which the by-catch mitigation requirements in Rec 11-09 reflect current best practice for pelagic longline fisheries, and the spatial, temporal and vessel applicability of Rec 11-09;

• Request and review new data on seabird by-catch rates;

• Develop indicators for monitoring Rec 11-09 over time; and

• Update the EFFDIS [Fisheries effort and distribution] database.

The Sub-Committee recognized the trans-oceanic habitat of some seabird species. This necessitates the evaluation of mitigation effects across ocean basins and through collaboration with other tRFMOs, such as the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT), which plans to hold a workshop in November 2014 to develop review methods.

Submitted Papers:

ACAP Intersessional Group (C. Small, A. Wolfaardt, G. Tuck, I. Debski, W. Papworth, Mi Ae Kim)  2014.  Preliminary identification of minimum elements to review the effectiveness of seabird bycatch mitigation regulations in tuna RFMOs.  SCRS/2014/121.

Reid, T.A., Wanless, R.M., Hilton, G.M., Phillips, R.A. & Ryan, P.G. 2014.  Foraging range and habitat associations of non-breeding Tristan albatrosses: overlap with fisheries and implications for conservation.  SCRS/2014/122. (Published in 2013 as Endangered Species Research 22: 39-49).

With thanks to Anton Wolfaardt.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 08 October 2014