Worldwide, incidental bycatch in fisheries is a conservation threat to many seabird species. This is thus an issue that needs urgent attention to both maintain a sustainable and economically viable fishery, and also to reduce the cumulative stressors for seabird populations. At present, however, we have no substantial information on the actual effects of bycatch on Norwegian seabird populations. In this project we will address this fundamental knowledge gap in our understanding of direct impacts of fisheries by exploring the effect of bycatch on seabird populations and demography, using the critically endangered common guillemot Uria aalge as a model species. Using information on the year-round distribution of common guillemots and some key fisheries, we will apply overlap analyses to highlight areas of encounter between seabirds from different colonies and fisheries. Based on bycatch rates, this will enable us to estimate the number of birds affected from each colony, which will be used to quantify the impact of bycatch on seabird demography and population trends. Our project will lay the foundation for an ecosystem-based management of coastal fisheries, a vital ecosystem service in the North, and aid in identifying best practices of mitigation through manageable changes in fishery effort (e.g. time and area closures).
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