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Fisheries Bycatch

March 31, 2014

A global perspective is needed to cut down on the unintentional casualties of commercial fishing.



Creating safer seas. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Sea turtle. (Caroline Rogers)

Sea turtle. (Caroline Rogers)

All commercial fishing carries with it a risk to seabirds, turtles, and marine mammals, which can get caught in fishing gear. Bycatch can further endanger already struggling species, according to San Diego State University ecologist Rebecca Lewison.

REBECCA LEWISON (San Diego State University):

The challenge is to identify fishing practices and management structures that help fishers and consumers keep bycatch to a minimum.


She says many past efforts to reduce bycatch have had a limited scope, such as dolphin-safe tuna. But after analyzing nearly 20 years of bycatch data, she and her colleagues have concluded that reducing fishing in certain hotspots and making changes to fishing gear will protect more animals if implemented on a global scale.


Most of these animals are moving across oceans, and that means that it doesn’t matter what gear is catching them or what nation is catching them, it’s that they’re getting caught.


I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Sea lions compete with commercial fishing operations off the California Coast. (Susanne Bard)

Sea lions. (Susanne Bard)