Critically Endangered Balearic Shearwaters are killed by Portuguese purse seines and set nets

Nuno Oliveira (Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves - SPEA, Portugal) and colleagues have published open access in the journal Global Ecology and Conservation on seabird bycatch in Portuguese fisheries.  ACAP-listed and Critically Endangered Balearic Shearwaters Puffinus mauretanicus (31 out of 68 birds reported) were killed by purse seines and set nets, although not reported by longlines - as in other parts of the bird’s at-sea range.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Competition with fisheries and incidental capture in fishing gear are the major current threats for seabirds at sea.  Fishing is a traditional activity in Portugal and is mainly composed of a great number of small vessels.  Given the lack of knowledge on effects of the Portuguese fishing fleet on seabird populations, bycatch was assessed in mainland coastal waters for 2010–2012.  Interviews and on-board data were divided into 5 strata, according to fishing gear: Bottom trawling, Bottom longline, Purse seine, Beach seine, Polyvalent (≥12 m) and Polyvalent (<12 m).  Polyvalent included Setnets, Traps and Demersal longlines.  Overall, 68 birds were recorded to be bycaught.  The average catch per unit effort (CPUE) was 0.05 birds per fishing event.  Polyvalent (<12 m), Polyvalent (≥12 m) and Purse seiners had the biggest seabird bycatch rates, with 0.5 (CPUE = 0.1), 0.11 (CPUE = 0.05) and 0.2 (CPUE = 0.11) birds per trip, respectively.  Within Polyvalent gear, Setnets captured the largest diversity of seabird species (CPUE = 0.06), while Demersal longline had the highest CPUE (0.86).  Northern gannet was the most common bycaught species.  Although more observation effort is required, our results suggest that substantial numbers of Balearic shearwater might be bycaught annually, mainly in Purse seine and Setnets.”


Balearic Shearwater at sea


Oliveira, N., Henriques, A., Miodonski, J., Pereira, J., Marujo, D., Almeida, A., Barros, N., Andrade, J., Marçalo, A., Santos, J., Benta Oliveira, I., Ferreira, M., Araújo, H., Monteiro, S., Vingada, J. & Ramírez, I. 2015.  Seabird bycatch in Portuguese mainland coastal fisheries: An assessment through on-board observations and fishermen interviews.  Global Ecology and Conservation 3: 51-61.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 30 November 2014

The Agreement on the
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