Saturday, July 11, 2009

waterbird populations

Bird mortality in fishing gear is a global conservation issue and it is recognised that bycatch in industrial longline and trawl fisheries threatens several seabird species. Little is known however about the effects of bycatch in small-scale gillnet fisheries on bird populations. Here we review 30 studies reporting bird bycatch in coastal gillnet fisheries in the Baltic Sea and the North Sea region in order to assess the magnitude of this problem and potential effects on bird populations. All species of diving birds that occur in the study region, including divers (loons), grebes, sea ducks, diving ducks, auks and cormorants, have been reported as dying in fishing nets. The cumulative bycatch estimate extracted from several localized studies providing such information, suggests that about 90,000 birds die in fishing nets annually, a number that is almost certainly a substantial underestimate. We conclude that it is likely that between 100,000 and 200,000 waterbirds are killed per year. Geographic and temporal patterns of bycatch generally matched species distribution and periods of presence. Also, bycatch rates varied depending on species' foraging technique and were influenced by net parameters and fishing depth. To evaluate effects of additive mortality on bird populations, we applied the Potential Biological Removal (PBR) concept to three species with the most extensive bycatch information. Agreeing with PBR assumptions we conclude that bycatch is a matter of concern for at least two of the three assessed species. We suggest that bycatch research in Europe and beyond should aim at unification of principles for bycatch assessment, setting new standards for the monitoring of waterbird populations so that vital rates and mortality data are recorded, and implementing quantifiable criteria for evaluating effects of fisheries bycatch.

Author Affiliation:

(a) Duke Center for Marine Conservation, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University Marine Laboratory, Beaufort, NC 28516, USA

(b) Institute for Applied Ecology Ltd., Alte Dorfstr. 11, 18184 Neu-Broderstorf, Germany

(c) Baltic Nest Institute, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden

(d) Estonian Marine Institute, University of Tartu, Vanemuise 46a, 51014 Tartu, Estonia

(e) Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU), Usedom Regional Group, SeestraAe 37a, 17429 Seebad Bansin, Germany

(f) Laboratory of Ornithology, Institute of Biology, University of Latvia, Miera Str. 3, Salaspils 2169, Latvia

(g) Institute of Ecology of Vilnius University, Akademijos 2, Vilnius LT-08412, Lithuania

(h) Centre for Water Management, Rijkswaterstaat, P.O. Box 17 NL-8200 AA Lelystad, The Netherlands

(i) Research and Technology Centre (FTZ), University of Kiel, Hafentorn 1, D-25761 Busum, Germany

Article History:

Received 28 October 2008; Revised 16 February 2009; Accepted 23 February 2009

Source Citation:"Bycatch in gillnet fisheries - An overlooked threat to waterbird populations.(Report)." Biological Conservation 142.7 (July 2009): 1269(13). Academic OneFile. Gale. BROWARD COUNTY LIBRARY. 11 July 2009


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Len Wilson

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