FROM: Alan Macnow
Consultant, Japan Fisheries Association
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SOUTHERN BLUEFIN TUNA CONSERVATION GROUP ADDS SEABIRD
Japan, Australia and New Zealand, in a recently
concluded annual meeting of the Commission for the
Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT), adopted a
program to reduce the incidental mortality of seabirds in
the longline fisheries operating under the Commission's
Seabirds, including relatively rare albatross species,
often try to snatch the baits from hooks deployed by the
fishing vessels. Many get snagged on the hooks and pulled
under water by the weight of the fishing lines.
To solve the problem, the three parties agreed on a set
of measures designed to keep the birds away from the hooks,
sink the baits under water before the birds can get to them,
and free birds hauled back alive without causing further
injury to them.
The measures also called for the vessels to avoid the
dumping of offal into the sea while fishing lines are being
deployed or hauled back. Offal resulting from the cleaning
of the fish caught attracts the seabirds to the vessels.
Tori lines, streamers attached to long poles extended
from the stern of the ships, flutter and frighten the
seabirds away from the fishing lines. The program calls for
all of the vessels in the fishery to use them.
The Commission also agreed to step up its collection of
data on the ecologically related species caught incidentally
in the southern bluefin tuna (SBT) fishery and to develop
more accurate data on the state and trends of seabird
populations which may be subject to incidental capture in
the SBT fishery. This will be done in cooperation with
other international organizations, states and appropriate
seabird conservation groups.
In addition, countries which do not belong to the
Commission but whose fishing vessels fish in the area will
be asked to cooperate and employ measures to mitigate the
incidental mortality of seabirds.
The Commission will continue to evaluate a number of
measures that are used or recommended to avoid or reduce the
incidental mortality of seabirds, with an eye towards
adoption throughout the fishery if they prove effective.
These include weighting the lines so they sink faster and
using machines to throw the baits clear of the wakes of the
vessels where they will sink faster. The effectiveness and
economic viability of setting lines at night also will be
The Commission will initiate an education and
information program aimed at fishermen, non-party states and
the general public to heighten awareness of the need to
reduce incidental catches of seabirds and ecologically
related species, and inform them of the steps that should be
taken to achieve that goal.