Independent observers will assess streamer line effectiveness
The longline fishery’s major conservation problem is seabird bycatch which often occurs during a longline setting. Birds attack hooks with the bait and as a result get hooked themselves. Sometimes one can even find really rare species like short-tailed albatross.
Several years ago WWF-Kamchatka office suggested that fishermen would use streamer lines to reduce the negative impact. Streamer is a long piece of bright rope or ribbon, which flutter in the wind and repel seabirds. Scientists and fishermen tried to use different types of devices, in different combination. The best effect was achieved while using two streamer lines at the same time on both sides of a fishing vessel. This double streamer line makes some kind of a corridor inside of which a longline with baited hooks is set. Very few birds dare to attack the bait hidden behind bright waving ribbons. As a result, birds mortality significantly lowers and economic efficiency of each longline setting gets higher because fishermen almost stop losing the bait.
Nowadays, fishermen from Longline Fishery Association, who are interested in certifying the fishery according to Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standards, use streamer lines voluntarily. WWF organizes workshops for crew members, explaining profits and principles of streamer line usage. WWF and Kamchatka State Technical University organized a supplementary course for senior students who want to work as independent observers onboard fishing vessels. Scientists from marine research institutes work as observers as well. Observers spend two month onboard fishing vessel on the average, and four cruises a year. This schedule ensures that all water areas off-shore Kamchatka is covered by the work of observers in all fishing seasons.
However, even streamer lines can’t provide 100% bycatch reduction. So, observers check not only the way streamer lines are installed, but also collect data on kinds and amounts of species in bycatch. That data being assessed, will help to define accurate impact of the longline fishery and find solutions for conservation of the most rare species.