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Ecosystem & Bycatch Program
The Ecosystem and Bycatch Program provides scientific support for implementing the broad goals of the Antigua Convention, in particular for the IATTC to “adopt, as necessary, conservation and management measures and recommendations for species belonging to the same ecosystem and that are affected by fishing for, or dependent on or associated with, the fish stocks covered by the Convention”. Two main duties are assigned to the program:
  1. To assess and mitigate the ecological impacts of the tuna fisheries on species and habitats. This includes the following activities:
    1. Develop analytical tools to identify and prioritize species at risk for data collection, research and management.
    2. Conduct Ecological Risk Assessments (ERAs) of EPO fisheries to identify and prioritize species at risk.
    3. Conduct spatiotemporal analyses to identify areas of high bycatch/catch ratios for potential use in spatial management (static or dynamic closures), and investigate alternative tools for bycatch mitigation.
    4. In collaboration with the fishing industry, conduct scientific experiments to:
      1. identify gear technology that will reduce bycatches and mortality of prioritized species;
      2. develop best practices for the release of prioritized bycatch species;
      3. develop best practices for mitigating the impacts of fishing on habitats in the EPO.
    5. Conducting workshops for vessel crews to promote the reduction of impacts of the fishery on non-target species and compliance with IATTC resolutions.
    6. In coordination with the Stock Assessment Program, improve our understanding of the effects of the operational characteristics of the fishery on fishing mortality, stock assessment, and management advice.
    7. Support for capacity-building with regard to bycatch mitigation, and development of data collection programs for artisanal fisheries of coastal States (e.g. shark fisheries).
  2. To improve our understanding of the EPO ecosystem as well as the interactions among the environment, climate and fisheries:
    1. Conduct trophodynamic studies for defining key assumptions in EPO ecosystem models. This includes sampling and analysis of diets and tissues required to understand food-web dynamics, and analysis of biological, ecological and fisheries data to facilitate ecological risk assessment and ecosystem modeling.
    2. Ecosystem modeling studies. This includes improving analytical tools to evaluate anthropogenic and climate impacts of the EPO ecosystem.
    3. Conduct spatiotemporal analyses to better understand the effect of key environmental drivers on the short-term as well as long-term (regime shift) fluctuations of abundance of tunas and prioritized bycatch species.
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Jon Lopez

Head of Ecosystem & Bycatch Program

Dan Crear

Senior Quantitative Vulnerable Species Ecologist

Leanne Duffy

Ecosystem Scientist

Shane Griffiths

Senior Ecosystem Scientist

Melanie Hutchinson

Senior Bycatch Mitigation Scientist

Dan Ovando

Senior Quantitative Scientist

Marlon H. Román Verdesoto

Bycatch and Electronic Monitoring Scientist

Salvador Siu

Coastal and Sub-Regional Fisheries Scientist