Scientia Marina, Vol 67, No S2 (2003)

Seabird mortality from longline fishing in the Mediterranean Sea and Macaronesian waters: a review and a way forward

John Cooper
Avian Demography Unit, Department of Statistical Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

Nicola Baccetti
Istituto Nazionale per la Fauna Selvatica, Italy

Eduardo J. Belda
Department of Biology, University of Oulu, Finland

John J. Borg
Seabird Research Group, BirdLife Malta, Malta

Daniel Oro
Institut Mediterrani d’Estudis Avançats, Spain

Costas Papaconstantinou
Hellenic Ornithological Society, Greece

Antonio Sánchez
7Sociedad Española de Ornitología/BirdLife, Spain


A country-by-country review of seabird mortality from longline fishing in the Mediterranean Sea and in Macaronesian waters shows a paucity of data. Of 12 Mediterranean countries known to undertake longlining, seabird mortality is only reported for six: France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Spain and Tunisia. Seabird mortality from longlining has been reported from the Azores (Portugal) but not from the other Macaronesian Islands. Only for one country, Spain, is information on the levels of mortality available, suggesting that 4-6% of the local breeding population of Cory´s shearwater Calonectris diomedea may be killed annually, a level considered unsustainable for the long-term persistence of colonies. Cory´s shearwater is the most commonly affected species, although a number of Larus gull species are also being caught. There is insufficient knowledge to conclude whether any seabird species is at conservation risk within the region, but concern is expressed for Cory´s shearwater. It is recommended that Mediterranean and Macaronesian countries conduct assessments of their longline fisheries and seabird mortality in terms of the Food and Agriculture Organization´s International Plan of Action - Seabirds. Regional fishery organisations, such as ICCAT and GFCM, should commence the collection of seabird mortality data. A longline action plan for the affected seabird species should be produced.


seabirds; longline fishing; conservation; Mediterranean; Macaronesia

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