ISSF: Bycatch Project Continues with Indian Ocean Research Cruise

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Victoria, Seychelles – Another cruise of the #BycatchProject launched off of the coast of the Seychelles this weekend. The focus is on testing methods and techniques that show promise in helping to mitigate and better understand the impact of FADs, fish aggregating devices, and bycatch.

Bycatch researchers onboard the Torre Giulia in the Indian Ocean, owned by Italian company Industria Armatoriale Tonniera, spent Sunday and Monday visiting several floating objects, some natural and some manmade. The team will spend the next six weeks on board studying methods to reduce bycatch associated with purse seine fishing on fish aggregating devices (FADs), with specific focus on sharks.  The strategy at sea will rely on the development of an underwater census to determine the species composition and abundance of species under floating objects. The study will also pay attention to the natural behavior of fish around FADs and will test different techniques to attract sharks and other bycatch away from floating objects.

This cruise is a joint scientific effort between the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) and the European-funded project Mitigating ADverse Ecological impacts of open ocean fisheries (MADE). Lessons learned from the #BycatchProject are analyzed by scientists and passed along to the fishing community in an ongoing series of workshops held by ISSF around the world.

The Torre Giulia is the second purse seine tuna vessel in the world to employ an electronic video monitoring system designed for instances where an onboard human observer is not a practical nor safe option, or to supplement human observers. Experts from Archipelago Marine Research Ltd., have outfitted the vessel with an array of sensors to monitor key fishing gear, and trigger the video cameras when it detects fishing activity. An onboard control center manages the system and logs the data, along with vessel location, speed, and heading information provided by the system’s GPS receiver. Throughout the trip, the system also delivers hourly updates via satellite, reporting vessel position, fishing activity, and other relevant information. Once the vessel returns to port, any portion of the logged data can be reviewed to help evaluate fishing activity.

The scientific team includes: Dr. Laurent Dagorn, Senior Scientist at Institut de Recherche pour Le Développement (IRD) and Chair of the ISSF Bycatch Project Steering Committee; Patrice Dewals, IRD; Fabien Forget, South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB)/Rhodes University/IRD; John Filmalter, Rhodes University/SAIAB/IRD.

For real-time updates from researchers follow the #BycatchProject and @ISSF on Twitter.

About the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF)
The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) is a global coalition of scientists, the tuna industry and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the world’s leading conservation organization, promoting science-based initiatives for the long-term conservation and sustainable use of tuna stocks, reducing bycatch and promoting ecosystem health. To learn more, visit their website at iss-foundation.org.

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