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Short title: Global patterns of marine megafauna bycatch
Classification: Biological Sciences
Authors: Rebecca L. Lewison1*, Larry B. Crowder2, Bryan Wallace3, Jeff Moore4, Tara Cox5, Ramunas Zydelis6, Sara McDonald7, Andrew DiMatteo8, Daniel Dunn9, Connie Y. Kot9, Rhema Bjorkland10, Shaleyla Kelez11, Candan Soykan12, Kelly R. Stewart4,13, Michelle Sims14, Andre Boustany9, Andrew J. Read9, Pat Halpin9, W.J. Nichols15, Carl Safina16
1 Department of Biology, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA 92182-4614, USA
2 Center for Ocean Solutions, Stanford University 99 Pacific Street, Suite 555E, Monterey, CA 93940, USA
3 Marine Flagship Species Program, Oceanic Society, 624 Keefer Pl NW,Washington, DC 20010, USA
4 Marine Mammal and Turtle Division, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA, 8901 La Jolla Shores Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA
5 Marine Sciences Program, Savannah State University, P.O. Box 20467, Savannah, GA 31404, USA
6 DHI, Agern Allé 5, DK-2970 Hørsholm, Denmark
7 Duke University, Nicholas School of the Environment, Marine Science and Conservation Program, 135 Duke Marine Lab Road, Beaufort, NC 28516-9721, USA
8 Naval Facilities Engineering Command Atlantic, United States Department of the Navy, 6506 Hampton Blvd, Norfolk, VA 23508, USA
9 Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0328, USA
10 Fishery Resource Analysis and Monitoring Division, North West Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service 2725 Montlake Blvd. E, Seattle, Washington 98112, USA
11 ecOceanica, Copernico 179, San Borja, Lima, Peru
12 National Audubon Society, 220 Montgomery St., Suite 1000, San Francisco, CA 94104, USA
13 The Ocean Foundation, 1990 M Street, NW, Suite 250, Washington, DC 20036
14 Department for Health, University of Bath, Bath BA2 7AY, UK
15 California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA
16 Blue Ocean Institute, School of Marine & Atmospheric Sciences, Stony Brook University
Stony Brook, NY 11794-5000, USA
*Corresponding author: Rebecca Lewison, Department of Biology, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA 92182-4614, USA, 619 594 8287, firstname.lastname@example.org
Keywords: global, fisheries bycatch, cumulative impact, seabirds, marine mammals, sea turtles, longlines, trawls, gillnets
Recent research on ocean health has found large predator abundance to be a key element of ocean condition. Fisheries can impact large predator abundance directly through targeted capture and indirectly through incidental capture of nontarget species or bycatch. However, measures of the global nature of bycatch are lacking for air-breathing megafauna. We fill this knowledge gap and present a synoptic global assessment of the distribution and intensity of bycatch of seabirds, marine mammals, and sea turtles based on empirical data from the three most commonly used types of fishing gears worldwide. We identify taxa-specific hotspots of bycatch intensity and find evidence of cumulative impacts across fishing fleets and gears. This global map of bycatch illustrates where data are particularly scarce—in coastal and small-scale fisheries and ocean regions that support developed industrial fisheries and millions of small-scale fishers—and identifies fishing areas where, given the evidence of cumulative hotspots across gear and taxa, traditional species or gear-specific bycatch management and mitigation efforts may be necessary but not sufficient. Given the global distribution of bycatch and the mitigation success achieved by some fleets, the reduction of air-breathing megafauna bycatch is both an urgent and achievable conservation priority.
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