Catch share management was implemented in the bottom trawl sector of the West Coast Groundfish fishery in 2011 to address a range of issues including high bycatch and discard rates. The catch share program was designed to remove the incentives to discard through full catch accounting, tradeable quotas, increased flexibility in fishing, and penalties for catch overages. We assess the effectiveness of the program in meeting its environmental objectives by comparing discard weights, proportions, and variability from 2004–2010 with 2011–2016. We analyzed these metrics for species managed using quota, including historically overfished stocks, as well as for non-quota species caught in the fishery. Discard amounts decreased over time for all species and declined to historic lows after the implementation of the program, remaining low through 2016 with much less inter-annual variability. Mean annual discards of two highly-targeted quota species, sablefish and Dover sole, showed the greatest decreases, falling by 97 and 86%, respectively. The discard proportion of overfished quota species fell by 50% on average. The unanticipated decline in discards of non-quota species as well as the decreased variability in discard amounts for all species indicate that the incentives produced by catch share management provided additional ecosystem benefits.
Although aquaculture sometimes lessens the negative effects of fishing by lowering the need to capture wild animals and plants, some aquaculture practices still require the exploitation of wild populations. A largely overlooked case is the use of wild populations to provide seed to sea farms. Mussel farming in Northwest Spain involve the capture of thousands of tons of young mussels (0.5–2 cm long) from the nearby rocky intertidal every year to supply floating rafts. Despite its volume, the impact of this activity on other sessile organisms remains unassessed. To fill this gap in our knowledge, we monthly monitored the sessile intertidal assemblage of five protected and six exploited sites during the closed season in 2016 following a nested sampling plan. Like the by-catch typical of other fisheries, harvesting young mussels for aquaculture was detrimental to the abundance and diversity of the associated sessile assemblage not directly targeted by this activity. Coverage and richness were also significantly lowered by the exploitation of mussel seed, and the community structure of protected and exploited sites was significantly different. These differences continued until the next open season, suggesting that the closed season was too short for the recovery of the associated non-target sessile assemblage. Given the size of the local mussel industry, the incomplete recovery along the closed season implies that mussel aquaculture must be putting a sustained pressure on a sizeable portion of the rocky intertidal of Northwest Spain.
Extreme climatic events are expected to become more frequent under current conditions of increasing global temperatures and climate variability. A key challenge of fisheries management is understanding and planning for the effect of anomalous oceanic conditions on the distributions of protected species and their interactions with fishing gear. Atypical marine states can cause non-target species to shift outside of their normal distribution patterns, leading to unwanted bycatch events that threaten fisheries sustainability. Environmental indicators can serve as early warning signals that allow for proactive management responses before significant bycatch occurs. Marine heatwaves in the Pacific have caused shifts in the distributions of endangered loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta), increasing overlap with California’s Drift Gillnet fishery and thereby the risk of turtle bycatch events. To reduce bycatch, a fishery closure offshore of Southern California – The Loggerhead Conservation Area – Is enacted when an El Niño event has been declared and local sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are warmer than normal. However, this regulation was based on qualitative assessment of bycatch that occurred during past El Niño events, and no explicit threshold for SST anomalies was defined. Additionally, closures enacted under the current regulation rely on structured expert decision-making. Providing a quantitative indicator could help to refine future decisions. We developed and evaluated potential new indicators to guide the Loggerhead Conservation Area closure timing based on thermal indices in three different regions: the equatorial Pacific, regional areas offshore of Southern California, and temperate pelagic areas off the US west coast. Our objectives were to: 1) quantify thermal indicators and their respective thresholds to guide closure timing, and 2) hindcast closure scenarios based on these indicator thresholds to evaluate efficacy in terms of opportunity costs to fishers and ability to avoid turtle interactions. The best indicator in terms of avoiding historical turtle interactions while minimizing opportunity cost to fishers was a six-month average local SST anomaly indicator with closures enacted above a threshold of 0.77 °C. This result can improve upon the current closure guidelines by providing a quantified and spatially-explicit indicator and threshold to supplement the structured decision-making process. Our analysis demonstrates a novel approach to developing fisheries management strategies for species with a paucity of data. Issues with data comprehensiveness are frequently present in fisheries management exercises, and precautionary approaches are needed to allow adherence with legislation while considering the best available science.
Novel approaches are required to estimate the bycatch associated with artisanal fisheries. Foremost among these is the use of fisher knowledge (FK). An interview survey was conducted in ports along 2631 km of the Peruvian coast to assess the spatial patterns and bycatch rates of marine megafauna of the artisanal longline fishery and its relation with vessel characteristics and fishing operations. The survey allowed the assessment of 18% of the fleet, while only 1% of the Peruvian longline fleet has been monitored with on board observations in the past. The results indicate that big vessels (higher capacity, longline length and number of hooks) that travel long distances (average distance to coast: 123 nm) mainly catch turtles and show a small amount of seabird bycatches in north‐central Peru. Small vessels especially impact turtles in southern Peru and near the coast (63 nm on average). Contrary to previously published information, which indicates a low level of cetacean bycatch in this fishery, a group of fishers reported more than 1000 cetaceans were incidentally captured in 2009. Using FK allowed to integrate different sources of information and scale the implications of artisanal fisheries in terms of bycatch. FK could further be used to help managers deal with the uncertainties in the dynamics of these generally data‐ poor social‐ecological systems.
Gear selectivity and discards are important issues related to fisheries management but separately modelled. This work examines for the first time the overall size-selection pattern on the total amount of individuals of a species entering the trawl codend. An innovative approach was used based on modelling the escapement through the codend in the sea and the subsequently selection process by the fisher on the deck of the fishing vessel resulting into the discards and landings. Three different trawl codends and three species were investigated in the case study conducted. A dual sequential model accounting for both gear size-selectivity and the subsequent fisher-size-selectivity was applied, under the hypothesis that a fish entering the codend can follow a multinomial distribution with three probabilities, the escape, the discard and the landing probability, respectively. The model described the escape probability through the gear and the landing probability by the fisher as S-shaped curves leading to a bell-shaped curve for the discard probability affected by both gear and fisher selection. The model described well the experimental data in all cases. Sampling scheme of three compartments proved adequate. The model provides at the same time selectivity and discards parameters useful in fisheries management.
Derelict fishing gear is a known stressor to rockfish populations in the Washington waters of the Salish Sea, including two species currently federally protected under the Endangered Species Act. In Washington and British Columbia, rockfish bycatch in actively fished (non-derelict) prawn traps has been documented in spot prawn test fisheries conducted by state and provincial government, and both live and dead rockfish have been found in derelict prawn traps encountered during derelict fishing gear removal operations in Washington. This study calculates rockfish bycatch rates in actively fishing prawn traps and provides preliminary trap loss rates for both commercial and recreational fisheries. Rockfish bycatch rates were determined through analysis of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Spot Prawn Test Fishery Data collected from 2004 to 2013. Data from WDFW creel surveys were used to update preliminary prawn trap loss rates. Interviews with WDFW marine enforcement officers were conducted to estimate the number of lost traps that are recovered before becoming derelict. The overall rockfish catch rates in Washington waters of the Salish Sea were 0.023 rockfish per trap drop, with considerable spatial and temporal variability. The lowest catch rates were consistently seen in Marine Area 7 (San Juan Islands and North Puget Sound); while the highest catch rates were seen in Marine Area 11 (south-central Puget Sound). The trap loss rate estimated for the recreational fishery is 2.33% of all traps fished. We estimate that over the years 2012 and 2013 an average of 653 recreational prawn traps became derelict each year. The accumulation of derelict prawn traps has a mostly unknown effect on benthic habitats of Puget Sound, which warrants additional research. While rockfish bycatch and prawn trap loss rates reported here are low, our findings support evaluating methods to reduce rockfish encounters with prawn traps.
Sharks and rays are often caught as bycatch by commercial fisheries, and high incidences of bycatch are partially to blame for the declines in many populations of elasmobranchs. In an effort to reduce rates of bycatch, researchers have tested various deterrents that could benefit fisheries. Permanent magnets are one promising form of bycatch reduction device, yet their efficacy has only been tested for hook-and-line fisheries with variable results. Here, we examined the potential benefits of permanent magnets on an ocean fish trap fishery targeting snapper (Pagrus auratus) where more than 10% of the total catch is comprised of unwanted elasmobranchs and the presence of elasmobranchs reduces the catch of target species. Over 1000 fish traps were deployed in a fishery-dependent survey in New South Wales, Australia. Standardised catch rates indicate that the incorporation of magnets into fish traps significantly reduced incidences of elasmobranch bycatch (mainly Brachaelurus waddi) by over a third, while increasing the amount of target fish caught by an equivalent amount. Together these results suggest that magnets can be used as an effective bycatch reduction device that reduces incidences of elasmobranch bycatch while increasing the profitability of fish traps for fishermen. Future studies should aim to replicate these results in areas where different species of elasmobranchs occur.
Incidental catch of nontarget species (bycatch) is a major barrier to ecological and economic sustainability in marine capture fisheries. Key to mitigating bycatch is an understanding of the habitat requirements of target and nontarget species and the influence of heterogeneity and variability in the dynamic marine environment. While patterns of overlap among marine capture fisheries and habitats of a taxonomically diverse range of marine vertebrates have been reported, a mechanistic understanding of the real-time physical drivers of bycatch events is lacking. Moving from describing patterns toward understanding processes, we apply a Lagrangian analysis to a high-resolution ocean model output to elucidate the fundamental mechanisms that drive fisheries interactions. We find that the likelihood of marine megafauna bycatch is intensified in attracting Lagrangian coherent structures associated with submesoscale and mesoscale filaments, fronts, and eddies. These results highlight how the real-time tracking of dynamic structures in the oceans can support fisheries sustainability and advance ecosystem-based management.
Bycatch of marine megafauna by small-scale fisheries is of growing global concern. The southeastern Pacific sustains extensive fisheries that are important sources of food and employment for millions of people. Mismanagement, however, jeopardizes the sustainability of ecosystems and vulnerable species. We used survey questionnaires to assess the impact of small-scale gillnet fisheries on sea turtles across 3 nations (Ecuador, Peru and Chile), designed to fill data gaps and identify priority areas for future conservation work. A total of 765 surveys from 43 small-scale fishing ports were obtained (Ecuador: n = 379 fishers, 7 ports; Peru: n = 342 fishers, 30 ports; Chile: n = 44 fishers, 6 ports). The survey coverage in study harbors was 28% for Ecuador, 37.0% for Peru, and 62.7% for Chile. When these survey data are scaled up across the fleets within surveyed ports, the resulting estimate of total annual bycatch across the study harbors is 46 478 turtles; where Ecuador is 40 480, Peru 5 828 and Chile 170 turtles. Estimated mortality rates vary markedly between countries (Ecuador: 32.5%; Peru 50.8%; Chile 3.2%), leading to estimated lethal takes of 13 225, 2 927, and 6 turtles for Ecuador, Peru, and Chile, respectively. These estimates are remarkably large given that the ports surveyed constitute only 16.4, 41, and 22% of the national gillnet fleets in Ecuador, Peru, and Chile, respectively. Limited data from observer-based surveys in Peru suggest that information from surveys are reliable and still informative. Information from surveys clearly highlight Ecuador and Peru as priority areas for future work to reduce turtle bycatch, particularly given the status of regional populations such as leatherback and hawksbill turtles.
In terrestrial and coastal systems, the mitigation hierarchy is widely and increasingly used to guide actions to ensure that no net loss of biodiversity ensues from development. We develop a conceptual model which applies this approach to the mitigation of marine megafauna by‐catch in fisheries, going from defining an overarching goal with an associated quantitative target, through avoidance, minimization, remediation to offsetting. We demonstrate the framework's utility as a tool for structuring thinking and exposing uncertainties. We draw comparisons between debates ongoing in terrestrial situations and in by‐catch mitigation, to show how insights from each could inform the other; these are the hierarchical nature of mitigation, out‐of‐kind offsets, research as an offset, incentivizing implementation of mitigation measures, societal limits and uncertainty. We explore how economic incentives could be used throughout the hierarchy to improve the achievement of by‐catch goals. We conclude by highlighting the importance of clear agreed goals, of thinking beyond single species and individual jurisdictions to account for complex interactions and policy leakage, of taking uncertainty explicitly into account and of thinking creatively about approaches to by‐catch mitigation in order to improve outcomes for conservation and fishers. We suggest that the framework set out here could be helpful in supporting efforts to improve by‐catch mitigation efforts and highlight the need for a full empirical application to substantiate this.