IUCN Oceania’s marine programme is currently collecting information from longline fishermen about the fish they catch at seamounts, underwater mountains.
IUCN’s Marine Programme Officer Kelvin Passfield is asking the fishermen about the gear and methods they use near seamounts and the catch rates of target, incidental and discard species at seamounts.
He will also be collecting information on the proportion of longline efforts targeting seamounts, the amount of depredation that occurs at seamounts and the effects of such fishing on the way seamounts function.
Interviews with fishermen have now been completed in Samoa, the Cook Islands, Tonga and Fiji. A total of 31 fishing boat captains have been interviewed, and the results are now being analyzed.
During this time, a spatial analyst at the Secretariat for the Pacific Community Oceanic Fisheries Programme has been looking at historical longline catch records from the Pacific, and comparing these with the locations of known seamounts to see if any patterns are apparent.
A report will be prepared based on the results of the survey, and a technical workshop is being planned to discuss the status of knowledge management issues of pelagic fishing around seamounts.
The work is part of the Pacific Islands Oceanic Fisheries Management Project. It will also assist in the protection of the biodiversity of the Western Tropical Pacific Warm Pool Large Marine Ecosystem.
The Project is funded by the Global Environment Facility and is executed by the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency in conjunction with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and IUCN.