Implementation of the United States National Plan of Action for Reducing the Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries
Advancements made by the United States toward the objectives of the 2001 U.S. National Plan of Action for Reducing the Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries (NPOA-Seabirds).
Since 2001, the United States has improved research, outreach and education on, and domestic management of incidental seabird catch. This has resulted in a significant decrease in seabird incidental catch in its domestic fisheries.
Interagency collaboration has been a large part of U.S. success in reducing the incidental catch of seabirds. Three different agencies – NOAA Fisheries, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Department of State – play roles in implementing the NPOA-Seabirds by seeking to reduce incidental catch through policy development and research, as well as a variety of domestic and international measures. These agencies have made great efforts to coordinate research and action on seabird incidental catch mitigation.
Management measures taken by the United States include the introduction of comprehensive regulations for avoiding the incidental catch of seabirds in a number of domestic fisheries. Such regulations have resulted in a halving of or even tenfold decrease in incidental catch numbers in certain fisheries. Additionally, the United States actively supports the adoption of seabird management measures in international forums, and is pursuing accession of the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels. Finally, the United States has implemented a number of outreach and educational tools to combat seabird bycatch by developing easy reference guides and manuals for fishermen and fisheries observers.
Despite the strides it has made in reducing incidental seabird catch in longline fisheries, the United States recognizes that there are further steps and initiatives it can take. Among these include the recognition that while incidental catch may have decreased in longline fisheries, it is still an issue in gillnet and trawl fisheries. In addition to further research and interagency collaboration, the United States will strive to emphasize the importance of seabird populations in ecosystem-based management systems and continue to promote global seabird conservation
through the adoption of international measures.