In 1991, CCAMLR adopted Conservation Measure (CM) 25-03, which prohibits the use of net monitoring cables in the Convention Area and applies to all trawling techniques. The establishment of this CM was a consequence of concerns over seabird mortalities resulting from collisions with net monitoring cables in fisheries. Technology has progressed since the introduction of this CM and the trawlers currently involved in the krill fishery that use continuous pumping methods differ in methodology from the fisheries that initially led to the establishment of it. The main change is that the part of the monitoring cable exposed in air is considerable shorter and represents no longer a separate wire in between the warps but attached to, or close to, the warp itself. In modern trawl fisheries the use of a monitoring cable enables expanded data flow which helps improve fishing efficiency, catch reporting, reduces negative ecosystem impact and increases crew safety. Some of the concerns regarding net monitor cables may be less significant now, and so Chinese and Norwegian vessels that use continuous pumping technology were permitted a derogation of the CM, allowing net monitor cable trials for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons. This report presents the results from the 2019-20 fishing season (Jan-Oct) from three vessels (two side-trawlers and one stern-trawler) using the continuous pumping fishing method from CCAMLR Area 48. The study was undertaken in full compliance with the requirements of the CCAMLR Scientific Committee (SC) (SC-CAMLR-38, paragraph 5.14) and data were collected according to standard SISO warp monitoring and Incidental Mortality Associated with Fishing (IMAF) protocols, and followed methods required by the derogation. Abundance estimates of birds, not required by CCAMLR, were obtained while fishing within Subarea 48.3. Seabird mitigation measures used on all three vessels were determined by ACAP best-practice guidelines. A combination of deck observations and video monitoring were used to observe warps and monitoring cables and a total of 1,193 hours of observations were made, representing 4.5% coverage of the total fishing time. Four 15-minute observations were performed at set times each day, and deck observations included three 15-minute observations during turns and other high-risk events, or random periods during trawling. All sets and hauls were also monitored. No heavy bird strikes were observed with the net monitoring cable on either of the side-trawlers. One heavy ‘aerial’ (interaction with the monitoring cable in the air and hits the water with little to no control of its flight) contact was observed on the stern trawler, but with no confirmed injury or death. One contact was also made with the mitigation device, i.e., an equal number of contacts as with the net monitoring cable. In conclusion, this report demonstrates that for both types of trawlers (side and stern), the risk for seabirds in connection with interactions with the monitoring cable is minimal. All human activity has an impact on nature and biodiversity to some degree but must be attempted to be kept as minimal as possible. The warp and monitoring cables on the stern trawler may be interacting with birds catching up with the vessel from behind, and it may be possible to improve the mitigation design for stern trawlers using continuous pumping methods. The greater efficiency and targeted fishing enabled by vessels using this continuous pumping method can reduce the climate footprint. We ask WG-FSA to consider advising the Scientific Committee and the Commission as to revise CM 25-03 to allow the use of a net monitoring cable, with mitigation measures as requested by the derogation.
Dr Bjørn Krafft (Norway)
Dr Bjørn Krafft (Norway)