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figure 1, see caption
Figure 1.  Comparison of seabird catch rates (birds/tow) at trawl haulback stages for Alaskan groundfish trawl vessels during an observer special project, 2004-2006 and 2009.  The category "codend" represents standard observer sampling.  Other categories represent the special project supplemental sampling completed by observers.

The 39th annual meeting of the Pacific Seabird Group was held at the Turtle Bay Resort, Haleiwa, Hawaii on 7-11 February 2012. REEM researchers Shannon Fitzgerald and Stephani Zador participated in a variety of activities. Fitzgerald gave an oral presentation in the Fisheries Interactions session titled "Seabird bycatch in Alaska trawl fisheries -- A comparison of observer sampling protocols".

This project, conducted collaboratively with seabird researcher Kim Dietrich, examined additional sources of mortality to seabirds that standard observer sampling cannot account for. The study focused on 9,000 trawl hauls that were observed using both standard and supplemental sampling in the years 2004-06 and 2009 (Fig. 1).
A manuscript is being prepared that describes the results.

figure 2, see caption
Figure 2.  Eastern Bering Sea combined seabird index temporal trends.  Seabird reproductive data are from the Pribilof Islands.  Higher values of PC1 indicate earlier seabird hatch dates and higher cormorant and murre productivity (except for St. George Island thick-billed murres).  Higher values of PC2 indicate higher kittiwake and St. George Island thick-billed murre productivity.

Zador gave an oral presentation titled "Eastern Bering Sea combined seabird indices show lagged effects of bottom temperature and food supply on reproduction." This project involved creating simplified indices that represent common trends among multiple seabird species and colonies (Fig. 2). These indices were found to be related to ecosystem processes at lagged time scales.

Zador is lead author of a manuscript in preparation describing this work. Co-authors are Todd TenBrink, George Hunt, and Kerim Aydin. The new indices have already been incorporated into the Ecosystem Considerations report produced annually by the AFSC as part to the Groundfish Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation report.

Fitzgerald, as a second author with William Walker, also presented the poster titled "Preliminary results on the diet of Laysan Albatross and the use of fisheries by-caught birds in investigations of natural feeding strategy". AFSC posters are available at

Fitzgerald also participated in the North Pacific Albatross Working Group and led agenda items on 1) the marine bird necropsy and food habits program for by-caught birds from observer programs throughout the North Pacific, 2) albatross bycatch in commercial fisheries, and 3) restructuring of the North Pacific Observer Program. The latter topic was requested by the American Bird Conservancy.

Fitzgerald also met with representatives from the non-profit organization Oikonos, who are contracted to complete necropsy work, and with staff from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who collaborate with the AFSC on a wide variety of seabird/fishery interaction issues.

By Shannon Fitzgerald and Stephani Zador

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