GEFs/UNDP/IUCN Indian Ocean Seamounts Project

SIODFA Vessel-Seabird Interaction
Management Measures

 1.            Document purpose

1.     Document best practice guidelines for seabird interaction management to be adopted by SIODFA vessels.

2.     Propose a framework and text for the section on trawlers in the SIOFA Seabird CMM (2019/13)

2.            Background

The region in the Indian Ocean in which SIODFA vessels operate has relatively low seabird abundance. It is far from thehighly productive areas of the Southern Ocean and any seabird breeding sites.  While seabirds are usually seen from SIODFA vessels in variable numbers there has been no history of vessel-seabird mortality or other adverse interactions between the birds and trawlers’ fishing gears. Cook Islands flagged vessels have had 100% observer coverage for four years, in that time there have been zero seabird mortalities.

Notwithstanding that, to date, SIODFA vessels have operated without any seabird mortalities.  We have adopted good fishery management practices
mediated through guidelines to ensure best practice are developed and adhered to and that review measures are in place to prepare for unforeseen changes in the level of seabird interactions.

Flag states and RFMOs are obliged to ensure that their fisheries are managed in accordance with international standards.  The introductory section of the SIOFA seabird CMM is applicable regardless of the level of seabird interactions (Annex 1).

The objective of the SIODFA method for implementing seabird management measures is for vessels to operate so that bird interactions remain low without unnecessarily burdening crews with practices that are designed for fisheries that experience high seabird mortalities.  Vessels must have operating procedures and equipment to increase mitigation measures if and when required.

 3.            CURRENT STATUTORY MEASURES (SIOFA CMM 2019/13)

The following text, taken from the current seabird interaction CMM, applies to all vessels fishing in the SIOFA area.

2.     Until such time that the SIOFA Scientific Committee has developed advice for the Meeting of Parties on the most appropriate response to mitigate and minimise incidental bycatch of seabirds by demersal fishing gears deployed in the Agreement Area, CCPs shall require any demersal longliners and other demersal fishing gears flying their flag and operating in this area to apply the following mitigation measures:

a.      the location and level of lighting shall be arranged so as to minimise illumination directed out from the vessel,
consistent with the safe operation of the vessel and the safety of the crew;

b.     information about birds colliding with the vessel, or caught by its gears will be recorded in accordance with CMM 2019/02 (Data Standards); and

c.     every effort should be made to ensure that birds captured alive during fishing operations are released alive and, for longlining, that hooks are removed without jeopardising the life of the bird concerned wherever possible In addition to the compulsory measures outlined in CMM 2019/13, SIODFA members commit to operate their vessels following the measures described in Section 4 to ensure that seabirds are not affected by trawling operations in SIOFA area. The measures are drawn from FAO and ACAP Best Practice Guidelines and are consistent with the provisions of the SIOFA agreement, in particular Articles 4 and 6:

 4.            SIODFA BASELINE SEABIRD MANAGEMENT MEASURES

These seabird-vessel interaction reduction measures are intended to maintain the status quo of minimal interactions between seabirds and SIODFA vessels:

a.           Vessels shall adopt shooting and hauling procedures that minimise the time that the net is floating on the surface of the water with the meshes slack. Net maintenance should, to the extent possible, be carried out with the net out of the water;

b.          Nets shall be cleaned prior to shooting to remove fish (stickers) or other items that may attract seabirds;

c.           Bird mitigation devices shall be deployed while fishing to deter birds being in the area around the net and warps. ‘Bird Bafflers’, devices attached to the vessel that prevent seabirds from flying round the stern of the vessel, are to be permanently deployed for the duration of the fishing trip (see example specifications in Annex 1). 

d.          Vessels shall carry enough materials for construction and emplacement of these and other seabird mitigation apparatus in the event of changes to seabird abundance or behaviour.

e.          Vessels shall document all seabird strikes (deaths or birds released alive) including the species and type of interactions, e.g., warp/cable strike, net capture/entanglement or vessel collision and will provide this data to the appropriate flag state agency.

 5.            SIODFA RESPONSE TO SEABIRD INTERACTIONS

Our experience is that these SIODFA measures are sufficiently effective for a fishery at lower than sub-Antarctic latitudes that have low seabird abundance and a demonstrated history of zero seabird mortality. If any of these conditions change these measures will be reviewed with consideration of the need for further mitigation measures. The threshold that triggers an increase in the seabird mitigation measures for an individual vessel shall be three seabird mortalities in a calendar year.

When (a) the incidence of seabird interaction is above the threshold outlined above or (b) the vessel master has reason to believe that conditions have changed such that seabird strikes are more likely, or advised to that effect by the observer; further mitigation measures shall be activated.  These may include:    

In the event of net captures, there shall be no discharging of offal or discards immediately prior to and during the deployment or retrieval of fishing gear. For trawl gears the period of deployment is defined as the period from shooting the net until the doors are released, retrieval is the time between attachment of the doors at the stern until the net is on deck.

g.     In the event of seabirds strikes on warp, secondary mitigation devices shall be deployed. Bird scaring lines (tori lines) will be attached to the vessel with a trailing float or drogue in the water, these cannot be deployed during shooting and hauling operations but can provide added protection against warp strikes during the tow.

h.     In the event of seabird mortalities from interaction with a net monitoring cable[1], use of the cable should be discontinued or, a snatch block shall be installed at the stern of a vessel to draw the net monitoring cable close to the water and thus reduce its aerial extent. Bird scaring lines shall be deployed and specifically positioned to deter birds away from net monitoring cables while fishing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Annex 1

Introductory Section of CMM
2019/13 Conservation and Management Measure on mitigation of seabirds bycatch in demersal longlines and other demersal fishing gears fisheries (Mitigation of Seabirds Bycatch)

 

Application and geographic scope 1.

1.     This CMM applies to all fishing vessels of Contracting Parties, cooperating non-Contracting Parties and participating fishing entities to the Agreement (collectively CCPs), engaged in fishing operations in the SIOFA Area of Application (Agreement Area), south of 25°S.

 General provisions for demersal longliners and Other demersal fishing gears 2.

2.      Until such time that the SIOFA Scientific Committee has developed advice for the Meeting of Parties on the most appropriate response to mitigate and minimise incidental bycatch of seabirds by demersal fishing gears deployed in the Agreement Area, CCPs shall require any demersal longliners and other demersal fishing gears flying their flag and operating in this area to apply the following mitigation measures:

a.     the location and level of lighting shall be arranged so as to minimise illumination directed out from the vessel, consistent with the safe operation of the vessel and the safety of the crew;

b.     information about birds colliding with the vessel, or caught by its gears will be recorded in accordance with CMM 2019/02 (Data Standards); and

c.     every effort should be made to ensure that birds captured alive during fishing operations are released alive and, for longlining, that hooks are removed without jeopardising the life of the bird concerned wherever possible.

 NB: bentho-pelagic trawls used by SIODFA vessels are deemed by SIOFA to be “bottom fishing gear”. 

Annex 2

SIODFA Specifications of Seabird Interaction Mitigation Devices – Bird Bafflers

1.     Exact design and placement will be contingent on vessel shape.

2.     Each boom shall extend outwards not less than four metres from the side or stern of the vessel.

3.     Dropper lines shall be attached to the booms and be no more than 2 meters apart.

4.     Plastic cones, rods or other brightly coloured and durable material shall be attached to the ends of the dropper lines, so that the bottom of the cone, rod or material is not more than 50 centimetres above the water, in the absence of wind and swell.

5.     Lines or webbing may be attached between the dropper lines to prevent tangling.

 

Figure 1:
Bird Bafflers stowed for entry into port

 

Figure 2:
Deployment of the bird baffler

 

 

 

 

Figure 3:
Bird baffler deployed. Seabirds are

 impeded from
flying round the stern of the vessel.

 

Specification of Bird Scaring Lines for Demersal and Mid-water Trawlers

6.     The main line shall be at least 50 m in length.

7.     Streamer lines shall be attached no more than 5 m apart and must be long enough to extend beyond the point at which warp and net monitoring cables reach the water’s surface. It is recommended that for every metre of block height; 5 m of bird scaring line be deployed.

8.     It is essential that streamers are made from semi-flexible tubing of high visibility. The recommended material is UV-protected fluorescent red polythene tubing and alternatives such as fire hose; old waterproofs and dark coloured tubing are not acceptable.

9.     To avoid deflection of bird scaring lines away from cables in strong cross winds, the bird scaring lines must tow an object attached to the seaward end of line to create tension and keep the line straight. It is recommended that for every metre of block height, 1.2 kg of terminal object drag weight be used.

10.  The lines shall be mounted outboard of the trawl blocks on both the port and starboard sides. It may be necessary to weld short extension arms to the handrail in order to achieve this distance.

11.  Streamer lines shall be deployed once the trawl doors are submerged and retrieved as net hauling commences. It is important to retrieve the streamer lines before hauling as vessels often go astern during this process.   This can suck the buoys underwater and lead to entanglement problems.

12.  A spare streamer line shall be carried and deployed in the event of loss or damage of a line.


[1] [1] . A net monitoring cable (i.e., net-sonde cable or third wire) is defined as “a wire commonly suspended from the trawl gantry running to net monitoring equipment attached directly to the net” (CCAMLR).

 

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