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Seabird Bycatch Project - MB0126

Internationally, interactions between fisheries and seabirds are frequent, widespread and include incidental bycatch of seabirds this can cause levels of seabird mortality which “pose a serious threat to many seabird populations” (EU COM. 2012).
This project will use existing data to help assess the risk to marine birds in UK waters of being caught and killed by commercial fishing gear. It will identify UK sea areas with a high risk to marine bird populations due to mortality caused by bycatch. The work will enable Defra, the Devolved Administrations and their agencies to assess whether bycatch will prevent the achievement of Good Environmental Status (GES) under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD - Directive 2008/56/EC). The results of the project will also be used to inform what further monitoring of bycatch is necessary to assess impacts and to instruct management measures. By meeting these aims, the project will also help to progress the aim of the EU Action Plan for reducing incidental catches of seabirds in fishing gears (EU-PoA) to minimise and, where possible, eliminate the incidental catches of seabirds.
Objective 1:Construct marine bird density GIS layers.
Determine the species to consider and construct GIS layers of bird density in UK waters using existing inshore and offshore survey data on numbers, distribution and seasonal variation.
Objective 2: Assess the sensitivity of marine bird species to bycatch.
The project will assign sensitivity scores to each species/gear type based on the best available information. Confidence in each score will be clearly reported.
Objective 3: Produce GIS vulnerability layers.
The project will produce a series of GIS layers that will map areas in UK waters where marine birds are vulnerable to bycatch at different times of the year. The vulnerability maps will be generated by combining the species/gear type sensitivity scores produced under objective 2 with the GIS layers of density estimates created under Objective 1. The tool will be designed to be updated as new data on marine bird aggregations are collected in the future and as new information improves our knowledge of the sensitivity of certain species to certain gear types
Objective 4: Construct fishing intensity GIS layers
The project will construct GIS layers of fishing intensity in UK waters using existing inshore and offshore data on fishing effort, gear type, depth and seasonal variation.
Objective 5: Produce a GIS risk tool.
The project will construct a GIS ‘Risk Tool’ that will map the degree of risk from bycatch, based on the extent of overlap between the GIS layers on vulnerability and fishing intensity created under Objectives 3 & 4. The Tool will enable us to identify those areas of greatest risk i.e. where areas of high vulnerability experience high levels of relevant fishing activity. The Tool can also identify areas where seabirds are vulnerable to bycatch, but where there are no data on fishing activity, so risk cannot be assessed. Identifying areas that are at a high risk and vulnerable areas where fishing data are lacking, is important for developing a risk-based approach to future monitoring of seabird bycatch.

Correction to final report 2019
The sentence on page 8: "In Scotland, England and Ireland there are several accounts of marine bird bycatch in gillnets. Žydelis et al. (2009) reported that hundreds of razorbills and thousands of guillemots were affected by bycatch in the UK every year with annual mortality estimated at 10,000-15,000 in north-east Scotland alone due to gillnets."

Has now been replaced with:
"In Scotland, England and Ireland there are several accounts of marine bird bycatch in gillnets. Murray et al. (1994) estimated around 1,700 guillemots and 700 razorbills drowned in salmon nets deployed around north-east Scotland in 1992."

Data Layers
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Project Documents
• FRP - Final Report : MB0126 Risk assessment of seabird bycatch in UK waters - updated 21 Oct 2019   (11150k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2013

To: 2015

Cost: £80,508
Contractor / Funded Organisations
J N C C (JNCC - Joint Nature Conservation Committee) Support Committee