NMFS National Seabird Program - Action Plans on Seabird Bycatch Reduction
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National Marine Fisheries Service, Alaska Regional Office

Short-tailed Albatross, photo: Hiroshi Hasegawa

NOAA Fisheries' (NMFS) Seabird Program

National Initiatives

Local Action

NOAA Fisheries and Council Regional Seabird Efforts

Endangered Species Act Biological Opinions on Short-tailed Albatross

Presentations and Papers

International Initiatives

International Action

Seabird Bycatch

Seabirds by a longliner in Alaska. Photo: NOAA Fisheries
Seabirds (mostly northern fulmars) congregating around the F/V Judi B, a commercial longline vessel. Photo: Kim Dietrich, Washington Sea Grant

Increased concerns have arisen about the incidental capture of non-target species in various fisheries throughout the world. Incidental capture can be economically wasteful, it impacts living marine resources, and the accidental killing of non-harvested animals may be aesthetically aversive. Incidental catch of non-target marine species such as marine mammals, sea turtles, and seabirds has generated growing concern over the long-term ecological effects of such bycatch in longline and other fisheries conducted in many areas of the world's oceans.

In response to these concerns, the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) called for an expert consultation on the issue of global seabird bycatch in longline fisheries. As a result of the consultation, the FAO adopted an International Plan of Action for Reducing the Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries (IPOA-S) in 1999. The IPOA-S applies to "States" (hereafter Countries) in whose waters longline fishing is being conducted by their own or foreign vessels, and to Countries that conduct longline fishing on the high seas and in the exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of other Countries. The IPOA-S is a voluntary measure that calls on Countries to: (1) assess the degree of seabird bycatch in their longline fisheries; (2)develop individual national plans of action to reduce seabird bycatch in longline fisheries that have a seabird bycatch problem; and (3) develop a course of future research and action to reduce seabird bycatch. The NPOA-S is to be implemented consistent with the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and all applicable rules of international law, and in conjunction with relevant international organizations.

The United States developed its National Plan of Action for Reducing the Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries (NPOA-S) in 2001. Development of the NPOA-S was a collaborative effort between the NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Department of State (DOS), carried out in large part by the Interagency Seabird Working Group (ISWG) consisting of representatives from those three agencies. This partnership approach recognizes the individual agency management authorities covering seabird interactions with longline fisheries. Also in 2001, NOAA Fisheries appointed its National Seabird Coordinator to head up its NPOA implementation initiatives. This work requires maintenance of a national perspective through coordinated regional activities.

NOAA Fisheries manages U.S. fisheries under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and the High Seas Fishing Compliance Act. FWS manages birds predominately under the authority of the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. In addition, DOS has the lead role in international negotiations on fisheries conservation and management issues that should help promote IPOA implementation by encouraging other nations to develop NPOAs. Given each agency's responsibilities, the NPOA-S was developed collaboratively by NOAA Fisheries and FWS. This collaborative effort has increased communication between seabird specialists and fishery managers in FWS and NOAA Fisheries. Maintaining this cooperation is a high priority for both agencies.

Contact Information

Kim Rivera
National Seabird Coordinator
NOAA Fisheries Alaska Region
Protected Resources Division
P.O. Box 21668
709 West 9th St. (Fed Ex. only)
Juneau, AK 99802
PH: (907) 586-7424
FX: (907) 586-7012

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