Defra - Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Science Search

Science and Research Projects

Return to Science Search homepage   Return to Project List

Research and Development for the UK Seabird Plan of Action (PoA) - ME6024

In 2018, Defra requested that JNCC undertake research and development for the UK Seabird Plan of Action (PoA) with the involvement of the devolved administrations. This was a continuation of a 2017 HBDSEG Research Project intended to expand the programme of work from monitoring and assessment to action and mitigation. Various policies drive this work, including the UK Marine Strategy, and it draws upon international standards such as the UN FAO International Plan of Action (IPoA) for Reducing the Incidental Catches of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries. The goal of the UK PoA is to "Deliver a coherent approach to understand and where necessary reduce seabird bycatch in UK fisheries, through engagement and dialogue with all interested parties and the implementation of subsequent recommendation".

In 2018/19 (Year 1) work began to estimate the levels of bycatch mortalities and effects on seabird populations. Those estimates – now published (below) show the scale of annual UK bycatch mortality to be in the order of two thousand to nine thousand individuals for species such as fulmar and, though lower for species such as great cormorant, show the potential for substantial population level effects. From these estimates a targeted approach to monitoring and mitigating bycatch can be developed. This is the goal for continuing research and development to support the UK Seabird Plan of Action in 2019/20 and 2020/21: to refine estimates, improve monitoring and assessment, define best practice in mitigation, and engage on voluntary implementation or regulatory intervention where necessary. The severity of bycatch mortalities – as estimated by these preliminary assessments - necessitates commitment to action by the UK government and devolved administrations in 2019 through 2021.
1. Finish and publish a quantitative UK-wide assessment of the scale of seabird bycatch and its likely impacts on populations.
2. Development of toolkits to assess the strengths and weaknesses of different mitigation measures, tailored for use by distinct audiences
3. Identify enhancements to existing monitoring and assessment of seabird bycatch under the Protected Species Bycatch Monitoring Programme (PSBMP) and other appropriate means.
4. Conduct training and awareness-raising to achieve the objectives of the PoA, dependent upon outcomes from year 1 and 2.
5. Input on the drafting and publication of the “UK National Plan of Action on Seabird Bycatch” prepared by Defra with stakeholder collaboration.
6. Production of a draft mitigation toolkit tailored to regulators and a toolkit tailored to grassroots organizations, following further analysis of available data and using feedback from a second stakeholder workshop.
7. Planning for regional pilot projects for monitoring and trialling mitigation methods, using evidence from the seabird mortality and population impacts reports to guide the locations of these projects.

Report citations:
Northridge, S., Kingston, A., and Coram, A. 2020. Preliminary estimates of seabird bycatch by UK vessels in UK and adjacent waters. Report prepared for the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Project Code ME6024).

Miles, J., Parsons, M. and O’Brien, S. 2020. Preliminary assessment of seabird population response to potential bycatch mitigation in the UK-registered fishing fleet. Report prepared for the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Project Code ME6024).

Revision to the final report
October 2020 revision to April Final 2020 Report: A revision has been made to the method of estimating bycatch mortality (detailed under Estimation Procedure on p.13); this primarily affects the 95% confidence interval of the estimates, with minor changes to the point estimates. Changes to the text, figures and appendices have been introduced to reflect the revised method, as well as the addition of some contextual information
Project Documents
• TPS - Two Page Summary : ME6024 Two page summary   (231k)
• TRP - Technical Report : Anderson et al., 2022 - Seabird bycatch mitigation (JNCC report 717; Defra ME6024)   (1518k)
• TRP - Technical Report : Miles et al 2020 - ME6024 Preliminary assessment of seabird population response to potential bycatch mitigation in the UK-registered fishing fleet - Oct 2020   (733k)
• TRP - Technical Report : Northridge et al 2020_ME6024 Preliminary seabird bycatch estimates in UK fisheries Oct 2020 rev   (3893k)
• WRK - Conference and Workshop Presentations and Reports : Soaring to Solutions Seabirds Workshop Report   (11107k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2018

To: 2020

Cost: £232,180
Contractor / Funded Organisations
J N C C (JNCC - Joint Nature Conservation Committee) Support Committee
Environmental Protection