Managing fishing practices to reduce bycatch 

The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) facilitates regional cooperation for the sustainable use of tuna. It was established in 1979 to help countries to sustainability manage the fishery resources that fall within their 200-mile exclusive economic zones. FFA develops the capacity of members to monitor and take actions to reduce their bycatch.

The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) maintains the Bycatch Management Information System (BMIS), which focuses on lessening the numbers of animals caught as bycatch when fishing for tuna and billfish.

BMIS is useful for fishery managers, fishers, scientists, observers, and educators and anyone else who is interested in how fisheries are managed. The main focus is on highly migratory species that breed slowly: mostly seabirds, sharks and rays, sea turtles, and marine mammals.

BMIS is also a reference and educational tool, which can be used to support the adoption of science-based management measures so that bycatch is managed sustainably.

Management information in BMIS provides context and rationale for the development of bycatch conservation and management measures.

The Oceanic Fisheries Programme (OFP) of the Pacific Community assists the WCPFC and in the development of the BMIS. It also helps to manage the monitoring and reporting of bycatch.

PNA members apply sustainable free-school fishing

PNA promotes the practice of catching skipjack and yellowfin tuna in free-swimming schools, that is without using fish-aggregating devices (FADs). Free-school fishing is certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). It is said to be more sustainable than fishing around FADs, because it limits the amount of bycatch, which may include sharks, rays, turtles, and dolphins. 

Two men (face of one obscured) on fishing vessel looking out over water. Photo Francisco Blaha.
Scanning for diving birds preventing birds from becoming caught is better than releasing them afterwards. Photo: Francisco Blaha.