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Conference highlights techniques for longliners to conserve protected species


20th November 2002

Over 200 representatives from 28 countries
are expected this week at a Honolulu
conference on ways to prevent and mitigate
harm to protected species that can become
entangled when they feed on bait or hooked
fish on commercial longline gear.

The Second International Fishers Forum, scheduled for 19-22 November, is focused mainly on methods to ease gear interactions that can kill endangered sea turtles and birds.

"In the 20th Century, many sea turtle and seabird populations declined, due in part to habitat loss, marine pollution, direct harvest of nesting females and their eggs, and the incidental capture in various types of fishing gear including longline gear," states the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, which is hosting the event.

"The harvest of adult turtles and their eggs may have a far more devastating impact on populations than longline fisheries, however, the recent expansion of fishing effort across the Pacific highlights the need for innovative solutions to minimise fishery interactions."

The council observes that: "A variety of strategies for reducing interactions have already been developed and proven effective in longline fisheries, such as the use of blue-dyed bait, bird-scaring lines, and the underwater setting chute.

These tools need to be refined and adapted to local fisheries and geared toward the species with which they interact. Consequently, representatives from American Samoa, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Costa Rica, England, Falkland Islands, Fiji, Germany, Ghana, Guam, Jamaica, Japan, Liberia, Mexico, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pohnpei, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Taiwan and Uruguay will be attending the forum to promote the development and use of effective mitigation measures in their countries."

The conference is set to open with an address by Ambassador Satya Nandan of the United Nations, who has presided over talks to establish a new international management commission for the Western and central Pacific fisheries.

Also on the program Tuesday are Rosemary Gales of the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service and Colin Limpus of Queensland Parks and Wildlife Department, discussing the biology, distribution and population status of seabirds and sea turtles.
Nigel Brothers of the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service and Christopher Boggs of the US National Marine Fisheries Service will discuss mitigation measures, data collection and research.
John Cooper of the University of Cape Town and Dougles Hykle of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species will discuss international agreements and national approaches.

On Wednesday and Thursday, breakout groups are scheduled to explore the issues in detail and begin drawing lessons and strategies from the discussion.
Sessions on Friday, 22 November feature plenary talks from William T. Hogarth, head of the US National Marine Fisheries Service; Martin Hall, who runs the tuna-dolphin programme at the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission, and Jim Cook, president of the Hawaii Longliners Association.

In addition to the Hawaii-based fishery management council, partners in organising the conference include the Hawaii Longline Association; Alaska Frontier Company; Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources; Moana Pacific Ltd.; National Audubon Society Living Oceans Programme; National Marine Fisheries Service; New Zealand Department of Conservation; North Pacific Fishery Management Council; the US Department of State's Office of Marine Conservation; and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Further information is available from the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, tel: 808-522-8220,

email, or via web at

By Brad Warren
FIS North America



Bird scaring streamers reduce the mortality of albatrosses
in the Falklands longline fishery.
Photo Courtesy