Known as marine bycatch, this problem is an ongoing challenge to the fishing industry, regulatory agencies, and conservationists. One recent proposal would compensate for bycatch by reducing other impacts on affected species, but a new analysis suggests that this strategy could end up doing more harm than good.
A paper published last year in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment made the case for "compensatory mitigation" of fisheries bycatch, using seabird deaths caused by a longline fishery as an example. The authors suggested that eradicating rats from an island with seabird nesting colonies could have more benefits for a population of shearwaters than efforts to reduce bycatch in the longline fishery.
A number of seabird experts, however, were skeptical of the paper's findings. Given its potential influence on fishery policies, they decided the proposal warranted a careful evaluation.
"There are so many complexities involved in fisheries bycatch, we felt compelled to thoroughly examine the strengths and weaknesses of this approach and establish the criteria that would have to be met for it to work," said Myra Finkelstein, a postdoctoral fellow in ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Finkelstein is the lead author of a paper published June 18 in the journal PLoS ONE that evaluates the potential effectiveness of compensatory mitigation for marine bycatch. She worked with a dozen coauthors whose areas of expertise include seabird conservation and ecology, marine bycatch, and mathematical modeling of wildlife populations. The researchers concluded that compensatory mitigation could only rarely succeed in reducing or offsetting the effects of marine bycatch.
"It's very difficult to make this work," Finkelstein said. "Most of the species threatened by bycatch evolved to live long and reproduce slowly. When bycatch kills adults, these populations just aren't capable of making up for it through increased reproduction. It really is about the bycatch."
Another major stumbling block is that bycatch typically involves a large variety of nontarget species, whereas compensatory mitigation actions are likely to affect only one or a few of those species.
"Marine bycatch is not a single-species problem," Finkelstein said. "So many nontarget species are caught in a given fishery that mitigating the effects on one species could lead to a bigger impact on other species."
The researchers also found flaws in the case study of flesh-footed shearwaters used to support the compensatory mitigation strategy in the original paper. But the bulk of the new paper is devoted to a set of five criteria for evaluating any proposals to implement such strategies. The researchers found that compensatory mitigation for marine bycatch is likely to be successful only in a limited number of situations. In many cases, they said, it has the potential to accelerate declines of marine species currently threatened by fisheries bycatch.
"These are complicated situations. We have to be very cautious, especially with critically endangered species, before we adopt a policy that allows continued mortality from bycatch," Finkelstein said.
The coauthors of the paper include Victoria Bakker, William Satterthwaite, and Robert Henry of UCSC; Daniel Doak of the University of Wyoming; Ben Sullivan and John Croxall of the BirdLife International Global Seabird Programme; Rebecca Lewison of San Diego State University; Peter McIntyre of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Shaye Wolf of the Center for Biological Diversity; David Priddel of the Australian Department of Environment and Climate Change; Jennifer Arnold of Pennsylvania State University; and Paul Sievert of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Tim Stephens | EurekAlert!
Successful calculation of human and natural influence on cloud formation
04.11.2016 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy