Reducing the capture of small fish, discards, and by-catch is a primary concern of fisheries mangers that propose to maintain high yields, species diversity, and associated ecosystem functions. Modified fishing gear is one of the primary ways to reduce by-catch and capture of small fish. The outcomes of gear modification may depend on competition with other gears using similar fishing grounds and resources and the subsequent adoption or defection of fishers using modified gears. We evaluated the adoption, size, catch-per-unit-effort (CPUE), yield, and income responses among gears in a coral reef fishery where a 3-cm escape gap was introduced into traditional traps. The size of fish increased in the modified traps but the catch of smaller fish increased among the other competing gears. Additionally, there was no change in the overall CPUE, yields, or per area incomes but rather redistributions of yield benefits towards the competing gears. For example, estimated incomes of fishers that adopted the traps remained unchanged but increased for net and spear fishers. Fishers using escape-gap traps had a high proportion of income from larger fish, which may have led to a perception of benefits, high status, and no defections. The less polarizing neutral-win rather than a strong loss-win tradeoff outcome may explain the full adoption of escape-gap traps 3 years after their introduction. Trap fishers showed an interest in negotiating other management improvements, such as increased mesh sizes for nets, which could ultimately lead to catalyzing community-level decisions that would increase their own profits.
Fish discards represent a large share of harvested biomass in shrimp fisheries. The aim of this paper is to propose a methodology for valuing discards of both commercial and non-commercial fish species discarded in the Gulf of California shrimp fishery, by estimating the monetary value of forgone fish biomass. The value of commercial fish species was carried out by using growth and population models, in order to simulate the biomass that, if left in the ocean instead of being harvested at Age 0, could reach an optimal fishing size. Using deflated ex-vessel prices, the present value of commercial species hypothetically harvested at an optimal age, was computed. The value of non-commercial fish species represented the forgone benefits of not using discarded biomass for producing fishmeal. Hence, the estimated value of fish diversity discarded in trawling operations in 2013 would range between USD 60.80 million and USD 103.4 million. This estimate is one of the first attempts to give an economic value to both commercial and non-commercial discarded fish biomass. Hopefully, the methodology here proposed will serve as inspiration for further research in economic valuation of marine biodiversity.
As part of the global marine fisheries catch reconstruction project conducted by the Sea Around Usover the last decade, estimates were derived for discards in all major fisheries in the world. The reconstruction process derives conservative but non-zero time-series estimates for every fisheries component known to exist, and relies on a wide variety of data and information sources and on conservative assumptions to ensure comprehensive and complete time-series coverage. Globally, estimated discards increased from under 5 million t/year (t = 1,000 kg) in the early 1950s to a peak of 18.8 million t in 1989, and gradually declined thereafter to levels of the late 1950s of less than 10 million t/year. Thus, estimated discards represented between 10% and 20% of total reconstructed catches (reported landings + unreported landings + unreported discards) per year up to the year 2000, after which estimated discards accounted for slightly less than 10% of total annual catches. Most discards were generated by industrial (i.e. large-scale) fisheries. Discarding occurred predominantly in northern Atlantic waters in the earlier decades (1950s–1980s), after which discarding off the West Coast of Africa dominated. More recently, fleets operating in Northwest Pacific and Western Central Pacific waters generated the most discards. In most areas, discards consist essentially of marketable taxa, suggesting a combination of poor fishing practices and poor management procedures is largely responsible for the waste discarding represents. This is important in an era of increasing food security and human nutritional health concerns, especially in developing countries.
Small-scale fisheries are responsible for high numbers of animals caught as bycatch, such as turtles, cetaceans, and seals. Bycatch and its associated mortality is a major conservation challenge for these species and is considered undesirable by fishermen. To gain insights on the impact of bycatch on small-scale fishermen and put it in context with other financial and environmental challenges they face, we conducted questionnaire-based interviews on fishermen working on Crete, Greece. We investigated fishermen's perceptions of sea turtle and other protected species interactions, and the impacts of such interactions on their profession and livelihoods. Our results indicate a connection between declining fish stocks, related increased fishing effort, and reported increased frequency of interactions between fishermen and sea turtles. Respondents believed that their livelihoods were endangered by industrial fishing and environmental problems, but thought that combined interactions with turtles and other marine megafauna species were a larger problem. Responses suggested that extending compensation to fishermen may be a good conservation intervention. Small-scale fishermen hold a wealth of knowledge about the marine environment and its resources. This may be of help to researchers and policy makers as it could be used to achieve a better managed, sustainable fishery. Including small-scale fishermen in the process of developing regulations will both enhance those regulations and increase compliance with them.
Unintentional mortality of higher trophic-level species in commercial fisheries (bycatch) represents a major conservation concern as it may influence the long-term persistence of populations. An increasingly common strategy to mitigate bycatch of harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena), a small and protected marine top predator, involves the use of pingers (acoustic alarms that emit underwater noise) and time-area fishing closures. Although these mitigation measures can reduce harbor porpoise bycatch in gillnet fisheries considerably, inference about the long-term population-level consequences is currently lacking. We developed a spatially explicit individual-based simulation model (IBM) with the aim to evaluate the effectiveness of these two bycatch mitigation measures. We quantified both the direct positive effects (i.e., reduced bycatch) and any indirect negative effects (i.e., reduced foraging efficiency) on the population size using the inner Danish waters as a biological system. The model incorporated empirical data on gillnet fishing effort and noise avoidance behavior by free-ranging harbor porpoises exposed to randomized high-frequency (20- to 160-kHz) pinger signals. The IBM simulations revealed a synergistic relationship between the implementation of time-area fishing closures and pinger deployment. Time-area fishing closures reduced bycatch rates substantially but not completely. In contrast, widespread pinger deployment resulted in total mitigation of bycatch but frequent and recurrent noise avoidance behavior in high-quality foraging habitat negatively affected individual survival and the total population size. When both bycatch mitigation measures were implemented simultaneously, the negative impact of pinger noise-induced sub-lethal behavioral effects on the population was largely eliminated with a positive effect on the population size that was larger than when the mitigation measures were used independently. Our study highlights that conservationists and policy makers need to consider and balance both the direct and indirect effects of harbor porpoise bycatch mitigation measures before enforcing their widespread implementation. Individual-based simulation models, such as the one presented here, offer an efficient and dynamic framework to evaluate the impact of human activities on the long-term survival of marine populations and can serve as a basis to design adaptive management strategies that satisfy both ecological and socioeconomic demands on marine ecosystems.
Bycatch of marine fauna by small-scale (artisanal) fisheries is an important anthropogenic mortality source to several species of cetaceans, including humpback whales and odontocetes, in Ecuador's marine waters. Long-term monitoring actions and varied conservation efforts have been conducted by non-governmental organizations along the Ecuadorian coast, pointing toward the need for a concerted mitigation plan and actions to hamper cetaceans’ bycatch. Nevertheless, little has currently been done by the government and regional authorities to address marine mammal interactions with fisheries in eastern Pacific Ocean artisanal fisheries. This study provides a review of Ecuador's current status concerning cetacean bycatch, and explores the strengths and weaknesses of past and current programs aiming to tackle the challenges of bycatch mitigation. To bolster our appraisal of the policies, a synthesis of fishers’ perceptions of the bycatch problem is presented in concert with recommendations for fostering fishing community-based conservation practices integrated with policies to mitigate cetacean bycatch. Our appraisal, based upon the existing literature, indicates a situation of increasing urgency. Taking into consideration the fishers’ perceptions and attitudes, fisheries governance in Ecuador should draw inspiration from a truly bottom-up, participatory framework based on stakeholder engagement processes; if it is based on a top-down, regulatory approach, it is less likely to succeed. To carry out this process, a community-based conservation programs to provide conditions for empowering fishing communities is recommend. This would serve as an initial governance framework for fishery policy for conserving marine mammals while maximizing the economic benefits from sustainable small-scale fisheries in Ecuador.
Tropical tuna fisheries are among the largest worldwide, with some having significant bycatch issues. However, pole-and-line tuna fisheries are widely believed to have low bycatch rates, although these have rarely been quantified. The Maldives has an important pole-and-line fishery, targeting skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis). In the Maldives, 106 pole-and-line tuna fishing days were observed between August 2014 and November 2015. During 161 fishing events, tuna catches amounted to 147 t: 72% by weight was skipjack, 25% yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) and 3% other tunas. Bycatch (all non-tuna species caught plus all tuna discards) amounted to 951 kg (0.65% of total tuna catch). Most of the bycatch (95%) was utilized, and some bycatch was released alive, so dead discards were particularly low (0.02% of total tuna catch, or 22 kg per 100 t). Rainbow runner (Elagatis bipinnulata) and dolphinfish (Coryphaena hippurus) together constituted 93% of the bycatch. Live releases included small numbers of silky sharks (Carcharhinus falciformis) and seabirds (noddies, Anous tenuirostris and A. stolidus). Pole-and-line tuna fishing was conducted on free schools and schools associated with various objects (Maldivian anchored fish aggregating devices [aFADs], drifting FADs from western Indian Ocean purse seine fisheries, other drifting objects and seamounts). Free school catches typically included a high proportion of large skipjack and significantly less bycatch. Associated schools produced more variable tuna catches and higher bycatch rates. Fishing trips in the south had significantly lower bycatch rates than those in the north. This study is the first to quantify bycatch rates in the Maldives pole-and-line tuna fishery and the influence of school association on catch composition. Ratio estimator methods suggest roughly 552.6 t of bycatch and 27.9 t of discards are caught annually in the fishery (based on 2015 national catch), much less than other Indian Ocean tuna fisheries, e.g. gillnet, purse-seine, and longline.
Gillnet fisheries are widely thought to pose a conservation threat to many populations of marine mammals, seabirds, and turtles. Gillnet fisheries also support a significant proportion of small-scale fishing communities worldwide. Despite a large number of studies on protected-species bycatch in recent decades, relatively few have examined the underlying causes of bycatch and fewer still have considered the issue from a multitaxon perspective. We used 3 bibliographic databases and one search engine to identify studies by year of publication and taxon. The majority of studies on the mechanisms of gillnet bycatch are not accessible through the mainstream published literature. Many are reported in technical papers, government reports, and university theses. We reviewed over 600 published and unpublished studies of bycatch in which causal or correlative factors were considered and identified therein 28 environmental, operational, technical, and behavioral factors that may be associated with high or low bycatch rates of the taxa. Of the factors considered, 11 were associated with potential bycatch reduction in 2 out of the 3 taxa, and 3 factors (water depth, mesh size, and net height) were associated with trends in bycatch rate for all 3 taxa. These findings provide a basis to guide further experimental work to test hypotheses about which factors most influence bycatch rates and to explore ways of managing fishing activities and improving gear design to minimize the incidental capture of species of conservation concern while ensuring the viability of the fisheries concerned.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of a circle hook ring on catch rates of target fish species and bycatch rates of sea turtles, elasmobranchs, and non-commercial fish in a shallow-set Italian swordfish longline fishery.
Results were compared from 65 sets from six commercial fishing vessels totalling 50 800 hooks in which ringed and non-ringed 16/0 circle hooks with a 10° offset were alternated along the length of the longline. In total, 464 individuals were caught in the 4 years of experiment, with swordfish (Xiphias gladius) comprising 83% of the total number of animals captured. Catch rates of targeted swordfish were significantly higher on ringed hooks (CPUEringed hooks = 8.465, CPUEnon-ringed hooks = 6.654).
Results indicate that ringed circle hooks captured significantly more small-sized swordfish than non-ringed circle hooks (27.7% vs. 19.5%, respectively).
For species with sufficient sample sizes, the odds ratio (OR) of a capture was in favour of ringed hooks; significantly for swordfish (OR = 1.27 95%CI 1.04–1.57), and not significantly for bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) (OR = 1.50, 95%CI 0.68–3.42) nor for pelagic stingray (Pteroplatytrigon violacea) (OR = 1.13, 95%CI 0.54–2.36). All six loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) and three of the four blue sharks (Prionace glauca) were captured on ringed hooks, however, the small sample sizes prevented meaningful statistical analysis.
In summary, results from this study suggest that the addition of a ring to 16/0 circle hooks confers higher catchability for small-sized commercial swordfish, and does not significantly reduce catch rate of bycatch species and protected species in a Mediterranean shallow pelagic longline fishery.
These findings should motivate fisheries managers to consider factors in addition to hook shape when aiming to promote sustainable fishing practices. The presence of a ring has the potential to negate some conservation benefits.
Bycatch mortality is a significant driver of marine mammal population declines. However, there is little information available on patterns or magnitude of bycatch mortality in many heavily fished Asian marine systems such as the South China Sea (SCS). To address this limited knowledge base, we conducted interviews with fishers to gather local ecological knowledge on marine mammal bycatch around Hainan Island, China. Gillnets were the primary fishing gear used in local fisheries, and were also responsible for the majority of reported marine mammal bycatch events in recent decades. Bycatch events were reported from all seasons but were most frequent in spring (38.4%), which might relate to seasonal variation in fishing activities. The spatial pattern of relative bycatch densities for Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, Indo-Pacific finless porpoises and unidentified small dolphins varied around Hainan and neighbouring waters. A substantial proportion of informants (36.1 and 9.2% respectively) reported that they have eaten or sold marine mammal meat, demonstrating the continued existence of cultural practices of consuming marine mammals on Hainan. Responses of fishers to bycatch events were dependent both on their existing attitudes and perceptions towards marine mammals and on other sociocultural factors. Almost half of informants agreed that marine mammal populations in the SCS have decreased. Declines were thought by informants to have been caused by overfishing, water pollution and vessel collisions, with bycatch responsible for further declines in dolphins.