The pathway to developing a seabird mitigation device or technique begins with getting clear about the actual problem.
Look at the fishery and work out exactly what species of birds are involved and how they interact with vessels and fishing gear. Focus on exactly where and how your mitigation device(s) or technique(s) will intervene in the process that causes birds to be killed or injured.
Within each fishery you'll need to evaluate seabird characteristics, fishing characteristics, key drivers, and current mitigation.
"Seabird activity can be very different, depending on the time of year or the place where you are fishing."
Barry Baker, Convenor, ACAP Seabird Bycatch Working Group.
Seabird interactions with fisheries can be dramatically different, depending on the area, time of day, moon phase, time of year, and types of seabird involved.
Look at the worst-case situation. Are some times or places worse for the seabird accidents you are looking at than others?
Work out what birds are involved - are they deep divers? Or are they mainly surface feeders? Or is there a mixture of both?
Look at exactly why these birds are attracted to or interacting with the fishing gear or vessels.
Some fisheries have more problems with seabird deaths and injuries than others and some seabird species will be more affected by fishing accidents than others.
World hotspots for fishing interactions with albatross and petrel species include the Patagonian shelf off South America, along with southern Africa, Australian and New Zealand waters.
If your device or technique will solve a major seabird problem in a local or global context, it may be easier to find funding or other support to aid its development.
"Your homework has to be impeccable - understand the operators, vessels, gear, setting procedures. You need to be a specialist on the fishing side of it."
Graham Robertson, Austratlian Antarctic Division, Australia.
Look carefully at the fishing characteristics of the issue you are working to address.
What is the fishing method? How is the gear set? How many vessels? What size are the vessels? How and where do they operate? What range of sea and weather conditions are involved?
Also, consider whether the fleet involved accept they have a seabird problem and are ready to do something about it. A fleet that acknowledges a problem and is ready to act will probably be easier for you to work with in developing your device or technique. Such a fleet will also probably be more receptive to adopting a new mitigation device or technique.
Consider the existing mitigation mix in the fishery.
Are you suggesting something that will work in combination with existing mitigation? Or are you suggesting some replacement technique or device?
What are the shortfalls of mitigation currently used in this fishery and seabird situation?
Can current mitigation techniques or devices be improved?