The direct influence of fishing and fishery-related activities on non-target species in the Southern Ocean with particular emphasis on longline fishing and its impact on albatrosses and petrels – a review
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Finfishing in the Southern Ocean began morethan 30 years ago at South Georgia and theKerguelen Islands. Although the fisheryextended further south for a few years in thesecond half of the 1970s, these two islandsremained the most important fishing groundsuntil 1996/97. Longlining for Dissostichuseleginoides began in 1985/86 and remainedrestricted to South Georgia and the KerguelenIslands for more than 10 years. Catches rarelyexceeded 12,000 tonnes in one season. Thefishery, however, is important because the fishare valuable and highly priced. The Commissionfor the Conservation of Antarctic Marine LivingResources (CCAMLR) is regulating fishing in theSouthern Ocean. CCAMLR first receivedinformation on this fishery and its possiblehigh by-catch of albatrosses and larger petrelswas first estimated in 1991. From 1996/97 onwards, illegal, unreportedand unregulated (IUU) fishing expandeddramatically within a single season. Limitedcontrol could be exerted in those areas whichwere under national jurisdiction. A number ofdetrimental effects from fishing activitiescould be seen on birds and mammals. Estimatedcatches in the illegal fishery amounted toseveral tens of thousands of birds per seasonwith little appparent reduction over the firstfour seasons. The sudden development of theillegal fishery placed a great strain onCCAMLR's fishery management. Vessels fishinglegally gradually improved their compliancewith CCAMLR conservation measures over the lastcouple of years. This may be insignificant compared to the potential in the IUU fisheriesbut testifies to our ability to makesignificant improvement using simple mitigationmethods.
After setting precautionary catch limits in1997, CCAMLR was able to adopt a `CatchDocumentation Scheme' (CDS) in November 1999which came into force on 7 May 2000. Mauritius,the main port where IUU fish were landed in2000, was willing to accede to CCAMLR and adoptthe CDS. An International Plan of Action forReducing Incidental Catch of Seabirds inLongline Fisheries was adopted by the FAO inJune 1999 and various activities ofgovernmental and non-governmental groups alsoseemed likely to address the problem moreeffectively with the assistance of the fishingindustry.
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