Get your mitigation used

Get your mitigation used

"You've got to show up at the dock, not at the government offices."

Ed Melvin, Washington Sea Grant.

For a mitigation device or technique to be widely used by a fishing fleet, it must either be an integral part of the gear or fishing operation (so mitigation is simply a by-product of its use), or it must be proven to work and accompanied by an appropriate education/enforcement regime.

Fishermen and governments will be more receptive to using or creating legislation around a mitigation measure that has been proven to work and is shown to be cost-effective. Fishermen will be even more receptive if it improves their catch or makes their job easier in some way.

Wherever you can, involve fishermen in the process. Work with leading skippers or fishing masters to trial your mitigation idea, or fine-tune or adapt it to their fishery.

If fishermen understand why seabird bycatch is an issue in their fishery and are involved in the process of addressing it, they will be more willing to adopt and use seabird mitigation.

Make fishermen want to use it

The easiest mitigation technology to get a fleet to adopt is one that improves fishing operations or is an integral part of their fishing technology.

Increasingly, fishing supply companies are developing products to help fishermen meet the environmental demands being put on them by their customers and governments

Make it catch more fish

Case studies Underwater setting tube & Cachalotera

Make it improve fishing operations

Case study: Integrated weighted line

Build it into the vessel

There is a limit to how much 'seabird-smart' technology can be inbuilt into vessels, as people buying new vessels also look to the vessel's resale value. If the inbuilt mitigation technology is too fishery specific, it may end up limiting the resale options around that vessel.

However, the NVC 303 is one example of a vessel with inbuilt seabird mitigation. This is a combined longline/gillnet vessel by ship-building firm Rolls Royce. It features inbuilt underwater line setting, which the company claims "prevents injuries to seagulls from hooks"

Encourage fishermen to use it

"Mitigation needs to be cost-effective, workable and practical for the fleet."

Neville Smith, Ministry for Primary Industries (Fisheries), NZ

The more that a mitigation technology affects a fishing operation, the less likely a fisherman will use it. So as a technology's cost to the fisherman increases - in extra time and money spent - the more that enforcement will have to be used alongside education in getting fishermen to use the mitigation technology.

Make it easy to enforce

The easiest technologies to enforce are either built into the vessel's fishing set-up or are difficult to change.

So the harder it is to check in port that a vessel is using a mitigation technique while fishing, the more expensive that technique becomes to enforce. Also, the more difficult it is for fishermen to get around the enforcement system, the more likely the mitigation device will be used.

Having observers in fisheries can increase the use of mitigation measures - their presence onboard was shown to increase the use of tori lines in South African fisheries. Spot-checks on the fleet (including aerial over-flights) can also be used to check some aspects of compliance with mitigation regulations.

Observers on vessels and spot-checks at sea are comparatively expensive ways of getting fishers to use mitigation devices. Generally, the safer, cheaper and easier a device or technique is, the more its adoption can be driven by education, rather than enforcement.

Make it safe, cheap and easy to use

Make it safe, cheap and easy to use

"Most fishermen haven't got the time to think about tweaking their mitigation devices all day. They're thinking of other things; catching fish, making money. For a fisherman, something you can 'set-and-forget' is the perfect device."

John Cleal, Fisheries Consultant, New Zealand.

The safer, cheaper and easier a mitigation device is to use, the more appealing it will be to fishermen.

Case study: Integrated weighted line

Introduce using appropriate education

"To motivate fishermen to be part of the solution in reducing seabird deaths, you have to help them really understand the issues surrounding seabird bycatch and understand their role in addressing it." - Rebecca Bird, WWF, New Zealand.

Every fisherman modifies their fishing gear to suit the vessel, sea conditions and fishery they are working in. They do this to make the gear easier to use, to make it safer and to make it fish better. Their payback is personal - more money in their pockets and safer and easier working conditions.

For fishermen to take an interest in modifying and tweaking their seabird mitigation devices, they must understand the issue of seabird bycatch and care about their role in addressing it. So the more mitigation technologies require adjustments to different vessel and sea conditions, the more they must be accompanied by education and awareness raising amongst the fishermen using them.