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Workable Solutions for Shark Conservation and Management

Innovations to Reduce Bycatch

Wildlife bycatch, the unintended catch of non-target species, is problematic for many fisheries and cost fishermen time and money. Wildlife bycatch creates large-scale economic loss for global fisheries, resulting in increased fishing effort to catch target species. The wastage associated with bycatch is hard to quantify, but the ecological impacts are assumed to be detrimental. In response to this concern, the global conservation community is identifying and testing a number of mitigation measures to reduce bycatch in a variety of fisheries.

For more information on what mitigation measures are currently underway, visit the Consortium for Wildelife Bycatch Reduction techniques database and the Western Pacific Fisheries Commission and their newly developed bycatch mitigation information system.

Global Initiatives to Reduce Bycatch

Smart Gear Contest-WWF

Gear technology, a major component in bycatch mitigation research, is a key step to reducing bycatch for sharks. Recognizing this, World Wildlife Fund created a Smart Gear Competition to entice the international community in coming up with new ideas to change the way we fish. This global organization offers more than $50,000 dollars in prize money to attract innovative ideas to reduce bycatch. Modifications can be simple and inexpensive, with the best ideas generally coming from fishermen. To learn more about Smart Gear, click here.

Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Resources

The Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Resources (CSAR) at the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University is leading the way in creating innovative solutions to reduce bycatch in Canadian fisheries. CSAR conducts a wide variety of applied research of which fishing gear design and testing is a central component. Modern designs are more advanced and sophisticated as a result of a number of factors including stringent bycatch restrictions and the necessity to minimize impact on the environment. To learn more about CSAR and the Marine Institute, click here.

Fishermen - Leaders for positive change in marine conservation

Fishermen are often negatively portrayed as the villains when it comes to their interactions with endangered species, such as sharks. This is not true. The fishing industry recognizes the need to reduce bycatch and as such, have been involved in a number of successful initiatives and management changes, showing that they take this problem seriously and want to do more to reduce the threat. Furthermore, experienced fishermen often possess an untapped wealth of knowledge on marine ecosystem and can provide insight on inter alia local stock structure, critical habitat, migration patterns, and behavior of marine species. Having fishermen be a part of the solution is key to the success and longevity of initiatives for marine conservation.

Collaborative Initiatives

A central solution to solving problems for shark species globally, as well as in Atlantic Canada, is through a collaborative approach. No one sector can successfully resolve the diverse range of challenges that exist. It is essential that multiple stakeholders be brought to the table to share perspectives on the issues at hand and agree upon the top priorities and actions for future initiatives.

On March 31st and April 1st 2011, WWF-Canada held the first Canadian Atlantic Shark Forum. The Atlantic Shark Forum was the first step in a collaborative process that brought together fishermen, scientists, managers and practitioners that either interact with sharks directly or are involved in the conservation and management of sharks in Atlantic Canadian waters. The goal of the forum was to identify top priorities that, if addressed, would significantly advance conservation and management of sharks. The forum was extremely successful and generated four cross cutting priorities that are seen as essential components to solving the complicated issues that exist for shark species.


Read More On Bycatch

“Human dimension of bycatch reduction technology” - Campbell and Cornwell, 2008. PDF

“Bycatch of high sea longline fisheries and measures taken by Taiwan: Actions and challenges” - Huang, 2011. PDF

“Understanding impacts of fisheries bycatch on marine megafauna” - Lewison et al., 2004. PDF