Outreach, Fisheries

Seabird Bycatch Prevention in Fisheries

Edward F. Melvin, Marine Fisheries Scientist

Hundreds of thousands of seabirds, including protected albatrosses and petrels, are trapped and drowned in longline and trawl fisheries worldwide each year. Seabird avoidance measures developed and promoted by WSG have dramatically reduced the number of birds, particularly the endangered short-tailed albatross, caught in the fishing lines off Alaska and the West Coast, and also have reduced bait loss and improved fishing efficiency.

These measures, which use strategically deployed bird-repelling streamer lines, have been adopted by the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council and are used by tuna fisheries worldwide. WSG and its Oregon and California partners have tested and refined prevention measures in the West Coast sablefish fishery, the regional fishery with the greatest potential for reducing or eliminating losses of the endangered albatrosses.

WSG scientist Ed Melvin and his collaborators won the 2015 Presidential Migratory Bird Federal Stewardship Award for their work implementing the Seabird Bycatch program along the West Coast and for their outstanding achievements in bird conservation.

WSG shares the 2015 Presidential Award with NOAA’s West Coast Region and Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Oregon State University, California Sea Grant, Oregon Sea Grant, the Makah, Quinault, and Quileute tribes, and other agencies and industry groups.