Working Group on Bycatch of Protected Species (WGBYC)
The Working Group on Bycatch of Protected Species (WGBYC) was established in 2007 and col-lates and analyses information from across the Northeast Atlantic and adjacent sea areas (Baltic, Mediterranean and Black Seas) related to the bycatch in commercial fishing operations of pro-tected and sensitive species including marine mammals, seabirds, turtles and sensitive fish spe-cies.
WGBYC seeks to describe and improve understanding of the likely impacts of fishing activities on affected populations, to inform on the suitability of existing at-sea monitoring programmes for assessing sensitive species bycatch, and to collate information on bycatch mitigation efforts. In 2022, the WG hybrid meeting addressed seven Terms of Reference (ToR).
The report provides an overview of data collection activities during 2021 including details of reported monitoring and fishing effort data, and bycatch records that were submitted to the WGBYC database in 2022 following a formal data call. Data were requested from 17 of the 20 ICES countries, six EU Mediterranean countries and two EU Black Sea countries. 24 of the 25 contacted countries submitted data.
WGBYC developed a new approach for evaluating and assessing bycatch across the full range of relevant taxa by considering a range of criteria, including data quality, within group expertise and the existence of management/conservation objectives. Preliminary results based on a selec-tion of 35 Ecoregion/species/métier level 4 combinations indicated that just 9 had low monitoring bias, and also highlighted that clear conservation objectives are generally lacking for most spe-cies and areas. This approach will be further developed by WGBYC to underpin the requirements of the agreement between ICES and DGMARE for the provision of annual advice on bycatch.
WGBYC provided qualitative information for several species/populations of marine mammals, seabirds, turtles and fish, that are currently considered to be at significant risk due to fisheries bycatch, but because of their rarity are not well represented in existing fisheries monitoring da-tasets.
A risk-based approach to highlight monitoring gaps and inform coordinated sampling designs was further developed and provided useful insights into which métiers may be under-sampled by existing at-sea data collection programmes with respect to sensitive species bycatch.
WGBYC prepared tables and plots describing data reporting in 2021, multi-annual bycatch rates and trends in fishing effort, to contribute to the 2022 recurrent and fisheries overviews advice drafting process.
Published under the auspices of the following ICES Steering Group or Committee