Seabirds are being incidentally caught in various commercial longline fisheries in the world, and concerns are arising about the impacts of this incidental catch. The species of seabirds most frequently taken in oceans around Australia are albatrosses and petrels.
Noting an increased awareness about the incidental catch of seabirds in longline fisheries and its potential negative impacts on seabird populations, a proposal was made at the Twenty-second Session of the Committee on Fisheries (COFI) in March 1997 that the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) organise an expert consultation to develop Guidelines leading to member states developing a National Plan of Action to reduce such incidental catch.
To address key threats to seabirds from fishing activities Australia has developed a Threat Abatement Plan for the Incidental Catch (or By-catch) of Seabirds during Oceanic Longline Fishing Operations (required under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999). The plan was prepared to meet the requirements of the EPBC Act and to coordinate national action to alleviate the impact of longline fishing activities on seabirds in Australian waters. Its implementation is led by the Department of the Environment and it applies to all fisheries under Commonwealth jurisdiction. Australia is currently considering options to increase the effectiveness of the mitigation of seabird bycatch in other fisheries.