‘Taking Stock’ of Bycatch in Brisbane

June 21, 2010 10:25

 Fishing activities around the world have marine ecosystems under pressure. Even non-targeted species are at risk from a host of unsustainable practices. In many cases workers on the water are willing to change their habits in favor of more responsible best practices but so far science-driven education and research has lacked global coordination, reports www.megafishnet.com with reference to International Seafood Sustainability Foundation.

Bycatch, the unintended capture of marine life, is a growing area of concern threatening long-term sustainability in many fisheries. The extent of the environmental impact depends on the type of gear used to fish. Most tuna is caught by purse seine vessels, which utilize a large net to fish, often in tandem with fish aggregating devices or FADs. These floating objects attract schools of tuna but also tend to entice other species in the same area.

"Purse seine fishing is an effective and efficient way to fish but we can not ignore the environmental consequences of scooping up more than just tuna in those nets," International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) President Susan Jackson said. "The scientific community is itching for the opportunity to collectively solve this problem and they need our support to get the job done.

Next Saturday, ISSF will host some of the world's top scientists for Taking Stock 2010 - Brisbane, a workshop on bycatch in purse seine tuna fisheries that will supplement the Joint Tuna RFMO International Workshops. Presenters will explore what's currently being done about bycatch, as well as the impact of tuna fishing on species such as sharks, turtles and small tunas, and detail a research plan being facilitated by ISSF.

"Our goal is to improve the way nations manage fisheries and if we expect them to mandate a series of best practices, or new technologies and techniques, we must have scientific evidence to prove their worth," Jackson added.

"Standing behind a comprehensive scientific approach today means we won't be back here in 10 years trying to fix the same problems all over again."

The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation is a global partnership among scientists, the tuna industry and WWF, the world's leading conservation organization, committed to science-based initiatives for the long-term conservation and sustainable use of tuna stocks, reducing bycatch and promoting ocean health.

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