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Resource Ecology & Fisheries Management (REFM) Division

Resource Ecology & Ecosystem Modeling Program

Seabird Interactions

The REEM Seabird Program focused on addressing requirements in the short-tailed albatross Biological Opinion (BiOp) published in 2003 (available from the Alaska Regional Office web site at

In coordination with the AFSCís new Fisheries Monitoring and Assessment Division, several at-sea fishery observer projects have been implemented to begin addressing the BiOpís nondiscretionary requirements. Several other BiOp requirements are being addressed, including an assessment of how important trawl sonar (third wire) technology is to the Alaskan fleet and analyzing trawl and third wire effort among the fleet. Another requirement was met by summarizing observer checks of seabird avoidance gear on longline vessels during 2004
(see Table 1).

Observer data are also being used along with catch information from the NMFS Alaska Regional Office to provide estimates of seabird incidental takes through the 2004 fishing season. Analysis was completed by Michael Perez of the National Marine Mammal Laboratory, and REEM Program staff are preparing summary tables and graphs for public distribution. This information will be available on the AFSCís web site at

A large component of the freezer longliner fleet started using paired streamer lines at the start of 2002, before regulations were implemented. The average annual seabird incidental takes for demersal longline (all fisheries combined) for the years before and after paired streamer lines were being used is 15,888 from 1993 through 2001 and 4,910 from 2002 through 2004 -- a 70% reduction.

REEM Program staff are also coordinating with the Migratory Bird Management Division of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Anchorage, Alaska, to implement a seabird sighting survey program that takes advantage of current research, charter, and possibly fishing vessels while in transit or on station. Funds were applied for through the North Pacific Research Board that would support materials, travel costs, and data management for dedicated seabird observers on vessels of opportunity.

By Shannon Fitzgerald


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