Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission discusses seabird mitigation in Vanuatu

The Commission for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPFC) held the fifth Regular Session of its Scientific Committee (SC5) in Porta Vila, Vanuatu over the period 10-21 August 2009.

Click here for the provisional agenda for the Committee's Ecosystem and Bycatch Specialist Working Group, along with a number of working and information papers relevant to the conservation of ACAP-listed albatrosses and petrels.

ACAP was represented at the meeting by its Executive Secretary, Warren Papworth, and submitted an Information Paper (WCPFC-SC5-2009/EB-IP-9) entitled "Mitigation measures for pelagic longline gear: a report on the work of the Seabird Bycatch Working Group, Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels".  Following a detailed assessment by the group, the report considers that some of the mitigation measures currently listed by RFMOs (Regional Fishery Management Organizations) would benefit from further development and testing as they currently have little empirical support for their efficacy.

An encouraging outcome from the meeting was the support given for the ongoing development of an ecological risk-assessment process using spatial risk indicators to identify areas where seabirds are most likely to interact with longline fisheries.

The analysis (WCPFC-SC5-2009/EB-WP-06) provides a useful mechanism to identify areas where increased observer coverage is desirable in order to determine the effectiveness and compliance with mitigation measures.  It also suggested possible hot spots in which mitigation measures might be refined, and where increased observer coverage may be required in areas where high bird interactions occur or where endangered species are present.

The meeting encouraged ongoing research on the effectiveness of seabird bycatch mitigation measures. It also encouraged the use of data from the Regional Observer Programme in order to validate spatial risk assessments so that a recommendation can be brought before SC6 to determine initial spatial zones for the differential management and monitoring of seabird bycatch.

Warren Papworth, ACAP Executive Secretary and John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer; posted 27 August 2009

The Agreement on the
Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

ACAP is a multilateral agreement which seeks to conserve listed albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters by coordinating international activity to mitigate known threats to their populations.

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