We conducted a preliminary analysis on the numbers of birds caught as a bycatch in the trawl fishery for icefish (Champsocephalus gunnari) in Subarea 48.3. From December 2000 – February 2001 92 birds were caught, principally black-browed albatross and white-chinned petrel, with 93% of the birds being caught in February. GAM/GLM analysis suggested that month and vessel were significant factors affecting the probability of a haul catching birds, but no significant factors were found that could explain the number of birds caught. Differences in the numbers caught in the last three years also suggest that there may be a year effect. We were unable, with the limited data available, to separate these various hypotheses and identify conclusively the causes of seabird bycatch in the icefish fishery. More work by scientific observers is required to enable effective mitigation measures to be designed for this potential problem. CCAMLR protocols and data formats for such observer studies need to be developed.
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