New Resource Will Help Fisheries Managers Avoid Seabird Bycatch

Contact: David Wiedenfeld,, 540-253-5780

Atlantic Puffin is one of many species affected by seabird bycatch. ABC's new manual helps fisheries managers and others avoid seabird bycatch. Photo by Mark Medcalf

Atlantic Puffin is one of many species that fall victim to seabird bycatch.

(Washington, D.C., April 13, 2016) Seabird bycatch is an enormous problem for sustainability of fisheries and conservation of seabirds, with at least 720,000 seabirds killed annually in longline and gillnet fisheries. To help fisheries managers avoid seabird bycatch, American Bird Conservancy has created a free, comprehensive guide that provides a wealth of information on seabird ecology, protection, and conservation. “Seabird Bycatch Solutions for Fishery Sustainability” covers how seabirds interact with fisheries, how to reduce bycatch of seabirds, and how to evaluate seabird bycatch under frameworks such as Marine Stewardship Council certification.

The manual offers 71 pages packed with useful information on seabirds. It's designed to help those reviewing or evaluating fisheries for sustainability, or seeking practical guidance on seabird bycatch reduction in fisheries, to quickly find the help they need. Illustrated with images and animations, it presents key information concisely, and serves as a complementary resource to ABC's Seabird Maps and Information for Fisheries website.

Created for fisheries managers and evaluators, biologists, regulators, and fishers, the manual provides essential information on topics including:

  • Bycatch and mortality of seabirds in marine fisheries: How do seabirds interact with different fishing gear? What are the ways they can be caught or injured?
  • Risks and best practices: How can fisheries managers and others avoid seabird bycatch? For some gear types there are very effective and inexpensive solutions.
  • How to evaluate seabirds within a Marine Stewardship Council certification process: How do the new Fishery Certification Requirements take into account seabirds and seabird bycatch? This section covers all of the MSC Performance Indicators related to seabirds.
  • Legal status and conservation of seabirds: How do various agreements, governments, and organizations around the world protect seabirds?

Additional sections provide background on seabird diversity and ecology; best practices for managing the forage fish upon which seabirds depend; resources such as additional web tools to assist fisheries evaluators and biologists in assessing risks and reducing bycatch; and more.

"By using the manual and the complementary Seabird Maps and Information for Fisheries website, evaluators should have all the necessary information and tools at their fingertips to help reduce seabird bycatch and make fisheries more sustainable," said David Wiedenfeld, ABC's Senior Conservation Scientist.

The manual is available free for download in two versions. The animations in the smaller version (25 MB) require access to the Internet (YouTube). The larger version (100 MB) contains embedded animations, and once downloaded can be viewed without Internet access.

The manual and website were developed by American Bird Conservancy with generous support from the Walton Family Foundation.


American Bird Conservancy is the Western Hemisphere's bird conservation specialist—the only organization with a single and steadfast commitment to achieving conservation results for native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas.  With a focus on efficiency and working in partnership, we take on the toughest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on sound science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation.