Seabird bycatch is a known or potential threat for a variety of U.S. and international commercial fisheries. For West Coast groundfish fisheries, bycatch of seabirds occurs primarily in sablefish longline fisheries. The primary goal of this research is to adapt seabird-avoidance techniques that have proven effective in Alaskan longline fisheries to the various longline gear configurations used by West Coast sablefish fisheries. This collaborative project has been engaging fishery stakeholders to obtain information on fishing practices and streamer line use from the sablefish longline fleets, and will field-test suggested configurations of fishing gear and streamer lines to minimize seabird bycatch and ensure effective natural resource management and conservation. The results from the research will lead to recommendations for streamer line and longline configurations for specific gear types used in West Coast sablefish longline fisheries. These recommendations will be important not only for the fishing industry but to inform any potential future regulations for this fleet.
Ed Melvin – Washington SeaGrant Troy Guy – Washington SeaGrant Robert Suryan – Oregon State University