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    Experience with seabird by-catch limits in a trial of longline fishing in the Macquarie Island toothfish fishery

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    T. Hewitt and I. Hay (Australia)
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    The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) recently granted a permit for a trial of longline fishing in the Macquarie Island toothfish (Dissostichus spp.) fishery, which lies just outside the CCAMLR Area. Several threatened seabird species, including albatrosses and petrels have very small breeding populations on Macquarie Island and are potentially vulnerable to interactions with fishing vessels. The seabird bycatch mitigation measures adopted for the trial included a ban on offal discharge, night setting only, use of integrated weight longlines (CCAMLR standard); paired streamer lines and strict seabird bycatch limits.
    The seabird bycatch limits categorised seabirds into three groups of species with a different limit for each group. The groupings reflected the varying conservation status of the seabird populations breeding on and foraging around Macquarie Island, and the vulnerability of each species to fisheries interactions. The group containing those species with the most critical conservation status and highest risk of interacting with fishing operations had a bycatch limit of one seabird; limits on the other categories were two and three individuals respectively. In addition, if three seabirds in total from categories 1-3 were killed as a result of interactions with fishing gear then longline fishing was to cease for the remainder of the season.