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Resource Ecology and Ecosystem Modeling

Seabird Fishery Interaction Research

Seabird Bycatch Monitoring and Reporting

The Alaska Fisheries Science Center’s Fishery Monitoring and Analysis Division supports the world’s largest seabird bycatch monitoring effort through the North Pacific Groundfish Observer Program. Between 36,000 and 39,000 coverage days are completed each year in the Alaskan groundfish fisheries (longline, pot, pelagic trawl, and non-pelagic trawl), and data are provided for analysis of seabird bycatch.

Northern fulmars vying to be first in line at the discharge chute, commercial cod longline vessel
Northern fulmars vying to be first in line at the discharge chute, commercial cod longline vessel. Photo Credit: Yolanda Malavear, NMFS Certified Observer

The AFSC has been producing estimates of seabird bycatch in Alaskan groundfish fisheries since the late 1990s. Estimates were produced covering the period 1993 to 2006 and are available in the 2008 Ecosystem Chapter of the Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation Report, with seabird bycatch information on pages 116 through 141.

The AFSC has worked with staff from the Alaska Regional Office to have the Catch Accounting System produce annual estimates of seabird bycatch in Alaskan groundfish fisheries. The CAS estimates begin in 2007, and are reported here as seabird bycatch estimates for Alaskan groundfish fisheries: 2007-2013. The CAS is described by Cahalan, et. al 2010).

Note that the estimates for the Bering Sea demersal longline fleet indicate an estimated take of 15 short-tailed albatross in 2010 and 5 in 2011. These estimates are based on the observed take of two short-tails in 2010 and one in 2011, the first observed takes since 1998. The Biological Opinion for the Short-tailed albatross (USFWS 2003) allows for an expected incidental take of four birds in each 2 year period for the demersal longline fishery. Note that this take is based on numbers of birds observed rather than the estimate of total take derived from the observed take.

Recent Contributions to the AFSC Quarterly Report

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