SS1.06 The Ecological Impacts of Pelagic Longline Fisheries
Date: Monday, June 10, 2002
Time: 2:30:00 PM
Location: Carson A
 
SmithJL, Birdsmith Ecological Research, Victoria, Canada, jlsmith@intergate.ca
Morgan, K, H, Canadian Wildlife Service, Sidney, Canada, morgank@pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca
 
ALBATROSS BYCATCH IN CANADA’S PACIFIC DEMERSAL LONGLINE FISHERIES IN RELATION TO SEABIRD DISTRIBUTIONAL PATTERNS AND FISHERIES EFFORTS.
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Demersal longline fisheries pose a threat to albatross and other seabirds that forage in the northeast Pacific. Pacific halibut and seamount rockfish fisheries target fish species in the offshore waters of British Columbia. We examined seabird bycatch rates and the overlap between fishing effort and seabird distribution and abundance using observer and logbook programs (1998-2000) and at-sea surveys (1982-2001; 96,551 km surveyed). Of the known interactions between longline gear and seabirds, the most frequently caught species was the Black-footed Albatross (Phoebastria nigripes). Seabird bycatch rates were estimated for three longline fisheries based on limited observations (less than three percent of hooks). The spatial distribution of albatrosses were found to have a high degree of overlap with longline fisheries during the fishing seasons. An industry-led campaign to introduce seabird avoidance measures in the halibut fishery will require a concomitant improvement in the bycatch data collection methodologies. Adjustments to the reporting criteria will be required before the impact of demersal longline fishing on seabirds can be adequately assessed.