From the 4th to 6th October 2022, IUCN-Centre for Mediterranean Collaboration (IUCN-Med), in collaboration with BirdLife Europe & Central Asia, ACCOBAMS, FAO-GFCM, MEDASSET, UNEP/MAP- SPA/RAC and WWF Mediterranean Marine Initiative, organised the International Bycatch Meeting, which was held as a hybrid event taking place at La Noria in Málaga, Spain, as well as online. Check out the highlights video here: https://www.facebook.com/Enaliaphysis/videos/8677358512304674
Marios Papageorgiou, director of Enalia Physis Environmental Research Centre talked about the interactions between #cetaceans and other #megafauna with the Albacore Tuna Fishery in Cyprus.
The event was aimed at interested experts and stakeholders, including scientists, managers, fishing gear manufacturers, conservation organisations and representatives of the fisheries sector to encourage constructive dialogue across a broad range of actors. The event also provided an opportunity to share key findings regarding bycatch monitoring and mitigation approaches as well as communication activities developed within the context of the “Medbycatch project”.
Over 90 participants attended the event in person and roughly 50 participants joined online over the course of the three days. Furthermore, the event was livestreamed on IUCN-Med’s Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/IUCNMed/) and LinkedIn (https://es.linkedin.com/company/iucn-med) pages, where it reached a total of 1,800 and 2,100 views, respectively. At least 23 countries across five continents were represented among the participants of the event, including North and South America, Europe, Asia and (North) Africa. The main working language of the event was English, with simultaneous interpretation available in French, Spanish and Turkish.
Aims and objectives:
The event aimed to demonstrate the current state-of-the-art in addressing bycatch worldwide, with a particular emphasis on the needs and challenges associated with the implementation of bycatch programmes in different geographical locations and fisheries. During three days, participants shared experiences on bycatch data collection, identifying effective solutions towards reducing bycatch, defining methods for replicating best practices and discussing future directions with the goal of supporting the establishment of a greater network of technical experts in the Mediterranean and beyond.
The International Bycatch Meeting aimed to:
- Address bycatch worldwide, with particular emphasis on the needs and challenges
associated with the implementation of bycatch programmes in different areas and fisheries
- Share knowledge and experience on bycatch data collection
- Identify effective solutions toward reducing bycatch, highlighting both technological and
- Define ways to replicate best practices and discuss future directions
- Establish a greater network of people working on bycatch issues, with various types of
expertise from fishers, observers, scientists, technologists, conservationists and policy- makers and artists.
The key objectives of the event included:
- Knowledge sharing: Pooling together fishers, observers, scientists, technologists, conservationists and policy-makers. Each perspective offers an opportunity for improved bycatch monitoring and mitigation.
- Cooperation (Regional and International): Building relationships with different stakeholders and continuing to work together to identify practical, affordable and effective next steps.
- Modernisation: Exploring accessible technology and innovative solutions for practical bycatch monitoring and mitigation.
- Planning ahead: Developing strong, clear recommendations based on science and local knowledge to ensure effective monitoring and reduction of bycatch.
Through presentations from expert speakers as well as panel discussions and open dialogue sessions, participants discussed issues relevant to:
- Monitoring bycatch and discards
- Capacity building and practical local knowledge for mitigation
- Successful solutions, Bycatch Reduction Technologies (BRTs) and novel applications for
- Potential management approaches, institutional settings, policy and compliance
- Raising awareness on bycatch through targeted and inspiring communication
- Fishers and citizen science supporting bycatch mitigation
At the heart of the event was to offer fishers a platform to promote their involvement in the monitoring and reduction of bycatch, including testimonies from fishers involved in the “Medbycatch2” project and experiences and lessons learnt from the field.
The event also reached wide audiences on social media with over 880,000 impressions on Facebook, 32,700 impressions on Twitter and 7,000 impressions on LinkedIn through 46 collective posts posted on IUCN-Med’s social media channels. The event was also widely publicised and shared through partners’ social media platforms with active feedback from participants worldwide.
The event highlighted the importance of collaboration among different actors within the fisheries sector – particularly fishers themselves – as a key component for successful bycatch mitigation. Furthermore, discussions underlined the role of time and closure areas for bycatch mitigation as well as the prohibition of specific gears or practices. However, it was also noted that bycatch mitigation is indeed a complex issues as mitigation measures for one taxa may negatively impact bycatch of another taxa. Indeed, effective action to address the complexity of bycatch of vulnerable species requires collaboration between many different actors as well as the aligning of diverse interests and motivations.
Regarding data collection, despite progress made on standardized methodologies and protocols (e.g. within the framework of the “Medbycatch project”), it is still challenging to ensure data collection is happening in a standardised and systematic manner. As a result, data sets collected among different countries and fisheries are often not comparable. However, the event highlighted the many existing opportunities for sharing technical knowledge among different stakeholders and the push for this implementation to happen across the different sea basins.
The meeting also raised the questions regarding addressing Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing as well as the role of financial incentives within the fisheries sector, specifically which if any are suitable in supporting bycatch mitigation.
The common thread throughout the event was the importance of collaboration as key factor for understanding, addressing and mitigating bycatch in a meaningful, long-term manner. Experience exchanges for example among highly diversified small-scale fisheries can play an important role in identifying the most suitable mitigation measures to be implemented in each situation (e.g. with the support of a toolkit). There is also a clear need for closer collaboration between fishers and researchers to find scaling solutions that simultaneously support sustainable livelihoods and the well- being of the marine environment.