Author: A. Miletić
Seabird bycatch during fishing also occur in the Adriatic, most often after longlines are thrown into the sea, before the bait sinks or while it is sinking, and birds become entangled in fishing nets.
With the aim of familiarizing the community of nature conservationists with the topic of seabird bycatch, we organized the third in a series of webinars of the LIFE Artina project, as part of the Strategy for replication and transfer of the project by which the European LIFE Program ensures that the knowledge and experience gained through the implementation of the project are applied in other areas.
During the webinar “A bird does not belong on a hook”, two phases of seabird bycatch research during this project were presented:
- Research on the mutual interactions of fishermen and seabirds,
- Reducing the impact of fishing activities on seabirds by identifying and promoting best practice solutions.
The first phase included an assessment of the impact and extent of use of fishing gear with a potential negative impact on seabirds, as well as the implementation of anonymous questionnaires with fishermen to determine the extent of bycatch. The results of this phase indicate that seabird bycatch exists in Croatia, on a small scale, but fishermen do not enter this information in the logbooks.
The second phase concerns the testing of modified fishing gear with fishermen and producing recommendations to reduce/mitigate seabird bycatch. In the waters of the islands of Šolta, Brač, Hvar, Vis, Korčula and Lastovo, lead weights for standing (demersal) longlines, signal (LED) lights for nets and devices for releasing the hooks of floating (pelagic) longlines under the sea (hookpods) were tested with 6 fishermen. Data on the functionality and practicality of the tested gear was collected. The highest level of support was given by the fishermen to the measure of using the additional weights for the longline due to simple fastening with clips when the birds are near the gear, faster sinking of the longline hooks, and weights has no effect on the fishing activity itself. No seabid bycatch occurred during the gear testing.
Based on the data obtained during the implementation of these activities, recommendations for measures to collect data and determine the extent of seabird bycatch in Croatia (indirect measures) and recommendations for measures to reduce seabird bycatch (direct measures) were designed, which were presented during the webinar.
A video about seabird bycatch, developed within the LIFE Artina project, was also presented. Check it out HERE.
After the presentation of the research, results and recommendations, a discussion began on the inclusion of seabirds in the existing Protocol for notification and action in case of finding dead, sick, or injured strictly protected marine animals and the possible role of public institutions for the management of marine protected areas in this. Also, the participants highlighted the suffering of birds at fish farms as a problem.
Following this webinar, two more will be held on the topics of project educational activities, and the proclamation of marine protected areas important for seabird conservation.