Assessing vulnerability of bycatch species in the tuna purse-seine fisheries of the eastern Pacific Ocean
Ecological risk assessment (ERA), including Productivity-Susceptibility Analysis (PSA), is becoming increasingly used to assess the relative vulnerability of data-limited non-target species to the impacts by fishing. PSA was developed for the eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO) tuna purse-seine fishery to assess the vulnerability of incidentally-caught species for three set types, “dolphin sets”, “unassociated sets” and “floating-object sets”, during 2005–2013. Because of operational differences between these set types, susceptibility values were combined for each species across the three set types to produce an overall fleet-wide susceptibility estimate. Vulnerability was highest for elasmobranchs, namely the giant manta ray, bigeye and pelagic thresher sharks, smooth and scalloped hammerhead sharks, and silky shark. Billfishes, dolphins, other rays, ocean sunfish, and yellowfin and bigeye tunas were classified as moderately vulnerable while the remaining species, all teleosts, had the lowest vulnerability scores. This purse-seine fleet-wide PSA identified potentially vulnerable species that can be compared with PSAs for other fisheries operating in the EPO, once detailed catch information becomes available for those fisheries. Such information can assist managers with prioritising fishery- and species-specific research programsand/or mitigation measures.