Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) today released a briefing on best practices for reducing bycatch in tuna longline fisheries. The report focuses on ways that longline fisheries can substantially reduce catching non-target species and offers industry guidance on ways to insist that such practices are adopted when sourcing tuna.

The briefing was developed to illustrate examples of longline fisheries that have already adopted best practices and to encourage industry to press for these measures to be employed when sourcing tuna.

Longlines have been identified as having one of the highest bycatch rates for species such as sharks, sea birds, sea turtles, and marine mammals. The briefing describes how gear design, fishing methods, and species occurrence can influence the amount of bycatch. Some of the bycatch species caught in tuna fisheries are classified as Endangered or Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Among the best practices identified in the briefing are: using suggested bait and catch methods, avoidance of areas with an abundance of wildlife, and following advice on gear use and placement. Examples of fisheries already utilizing best practices include the Hawaii Longline Swordfish Fishery, the US Northeast Distant Fishery Experiment (NED), the Australian Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery, and Fiji Longline.

Industry advice includes public disclosure of data regarding bycatch, adoption of bycatch best practices at a regulatory level, and participation in fishery improvement projects (FIPs).