Longline fishing at Tristan da Cunha: impacts on seabirds
Atlantic seabirds , Volume 2 - Issue 2 p. 49- 56
Tristan da Cunha and Gough Islands in the central South Atlantic Ocean support globally important seabird populations. Two longline fisheries occur within Tristan’s Exclusive Economic Zone: a pelagic fishery for tunas and a demersal fishery for bluefish and alfoncino. Fishery observers have accompanied all three licensed demersal cruises. Despite attracting considerable numbers of birds and setting lines during the day, only one bird (a Great Sheawater Puffinus gravis) was killed (mortality rate 0.001 birds per 1000 hooks). By comparison, the pelagic fishery for tuna, which exceeds demersal fishing effort, probably has a much greater impact. Observations aboard one vessel in mid-winter suggest a bycatch rate of>1 bird killed per 1000 hooks; this could be even higher in summer when more birds are breeding at the islands. Stricter regulations are required for pelagic vessels, including routine placing of observers on board. The gravest threat posed by longline fishing to Tristan’s seabirds comes from vessels fishing illegally in Tristan waters, as well as vessels in international waters that do not use basic mitigation measures. There is a pressing need for better policing of Tristan’s waters.
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