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      Global patterns of marine mammal, seabird, and sea turtle bycatch reveal taxa-specific and cumulative megafauna hotspots

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          Abstract

          Recent research on ocean health has found large predator abundance to be a key element of ocean condition. Fisheries can impact large predator abundance directly through targeted capture and indirectly through incidental capture of nontarget species or bycatch. However, measures of the global nature of bycatch are lacking for air-breathing megafauna. We fill this knowledge gap and present a synoptic global assessment of the distribution and intensity of bycatch of seabirds, marine mammals, and sea turtles based on empirical data from the three most commonly used types of fishing gears worldwide. We identify taxa-specific hotspots of bycatch intensity and find evidence of cumulative impacts across fishing fleets and gears. This global map of bycatch illustrates where data are particularly scarce--in coastal and small-scale fisheries and ocean regions that support developed industrial fisheries and millions of small-scale fishers--and identifies fishing areas where, given the evidence of cumulative hotspots across gear and taxa, traditional species or gear-specific bycatch management and mitigation efforts may be necessary but not sufficient. Given the global distribution of bycatch and the mitigation success achieved by some fleets, the reduction of air-breathing megafauna bycatch is both an urgent and achievable conservation priority.

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          Most cited references 47

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          Tracking apex marine predator movements in a dynamic ocean.

          Pelagic marine predators face unprecedented challenges and uncertain futures. Overexploitation and climate variability impact the abundance and distribution of top predators in ocean ecosystems. Improved understanding of ecological patterns, evolutionary constraints and ecosystem function is critical for preventing extinctions, loss of biodiversity and disruption of ecosystem services. Recent advances in electronic tagging techniques have provided the capacity to observe the movements and long-distance migrations of animals in relation to ocean processes across a range of ecological scales. Tagging of Pacific Predators, a field programme of the Census of Marine Life, deployed 4,306 tags on 23 species in the North Pacific Ocean, resulting in a tracking data set of unprecedented scale and species diversity that covers 265,386 tracking days from 2000 to 2009. Here we report migration pathways, link ocean features to multispecies hotspots and illustrate niche partitioning within and among congener guilds. Our results indicate that the California Current large marine ecosystem and the North Pacific transition zone attract and retain a diverse assemblage of marine vertebrates. Within the California Current large marine ecosystem, several predator guilds seasonally undertake north-south migrations that may be driven by oceanic processes, species-specific thermal tolerances and shifts in prey distributions. We identify critical habitats across multinational boundaries and show that top predators exploit their environment in predictable ways, providing the foundation for spatial management of large marine ecosystems. ©2011 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved
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            Collapse and conservation of shark populations in the Northwest Atlantic.

            Overexploitation threatens the future of many large vertebrates. In the ocean, tunas and sea turtles are current conservation concerns because of this intense pressure. The status of most shark species, in contrast, remains uncertain. Using the largest data set in the Northwest Atlantic, we show rapid large declines in large coastal and oceanic shark populations. Scalloped hammerhead, white, and thresher sharks are each estimated to have declined by over 75% in the past 15 years. Closed-area models highlight priority areas for shark conservation, and the need to consider effort reallocation and site selection if marine reserves are to benefit multiple threatened species.
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              Seabird conservation status, threats and priority actions: a global assessment

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                0027-8424
                1091-6490
                April 08 2014
                April 08 2014
                March 17 2014
                April 08 2014
                : 111
                : 14
                : 5271-5276
                Article
                10.1073/pnas.1318960111
                24639512
                © 2014
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