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Resource Ecology & Ecosystem Modeling (REEM) Program

Seabird Research: 35th Annual Meeting of the Pacific Seabird Group

Shannon Fitzgerald attended the 35th Annual Meeting of the Pacific Seabird Group (PSG) from 27 February to 1 March in Blaine, Washington. He participated in the PSG Seabird Monitoring Committee and North Pacific Albatross Working Group meetings prior to the start of the full conference. At the albatross working group, albatross bycatch for Alaskan and Hawaiian fisheries were reported (with acknowledgements to Lewis VanFossen of the Pacific Islands Regional Office for providing summaries of the Hawaiian bycatch prior to this meeting).

While at the conference, Fitzgerald made the presentation, "The Trouble With Trawlers and Seabirds in the North Pacific Groundfish Fishery (ies)," which highlighted what is currently known of seabird bycatch in the trawl fleet, identified several sources of mortality that are not observed, and identified other approaches that help to inform us about seabird/trawl fishery interactions.

Fitzgerald also presented the poster, "Research–Regulation–Operation: An Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Seabird Mitigation Requirements in the Alaskan Demersal Groundfish Longline Fleet" (Shannon Fitzgerald, Renold Narita, and Kim Rivera). The poster noted that seabird bycatch has decreased from an annual average (1993-2000) of 16,507 down to an annual average (2002-06) of 5,137 (Fig. 2 below). Research done by Washington Sea Grant in 1999-2000 indicated that streamer lines were especially effective for reducing albatross bycatch. The average annual albatross bycatch for 1993 through 2000 was 1,051, while the annual average for 2002-06 was 185. The research was originally designed to evaluate mitigation gear under commercial operations and to recommend actions that would be effective and relatively easy to use by fishers. Based on the general evaluation provided in this poster it appears that those research objectives were met.

figure 2, see caption
Figure 2.  Annual average seabird bycatch during 5-year periods before and after streamer line use in the demersal groundfish longline fishery.

Stephani Zador also attended the Pacific Seabird Group meeting. Dr. Zador, a member of the local organizing committee, attended the North Pacific albatross working group meeting and gave a presentation titled "Determining Spatial and Temporal Overlap of an Endangered Seabird With a Large Commercial Trawl Fishery" in a session on seabird and fisheries interactions. The presentation reviewed a risk assessment conducted by Dr. Zador and others that compares multiple methods to quantify overlap between short-tailed albatross and the Alaskan groundfish trawl fishery.

By Shannon Fitzgerald and Stephani Zador

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