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 of protected, endangered and threatened (PET) species, including marine mammals, seabirds, turtles and sensitive fish species in commer-cial fishing operations.
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 2023, the WG met in hybrid format and addressed eight Terms of Reference.
The report provides an overview of data collection activities during 2022 including details of reported monitoring and fishing effort data, and bycatch records that were submitted to the WGBYC database in 2023 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. 23 of the 25 contacted countries submitted data.
WGBYC further expanded the BEAM approach which was first developed in 2022 and is de-signed for evaluating and quantitatively assessing population impacts of bycatch across the full range of relevant taxa by considering various criteria, including data availability, quality and representativity, within group expertise and the existence of management/conservation thresh-olds or reference points. The BEAM approach underpins the requirement of the agreement be-tween ICES and DGMARE for the provision of annual advice on bycatch. Estimated bycatch mortality ranges, by ecoregion and gear type, were produced for several mammal, seabird, turtle and fish species listed on the EU priority species list and the ICES Roadmap for Bycatch Advice ecoregion species list.
In 2023 WGBYC developed a new semi-quantitative and repeatable methodology for evaluating bycatch risk for high priority data limited species for which reliable quantitative assessments cannot currently be carried out using the BEAM approach. WGBYC proposed a process where taxa specific experts contribute biological, demographic and distribution data to metadata tables which are combined with bycatch and fishing effort data to inform risk matrices to evaluate by-catch risk by species, gear type, area and potential population impact.
A risk-based approach to highlight potential monitoring gaps and inform coordinated sampling designs was further developed and expanded and provides useful insights into which métiers may currently be under-sampled by existing at-sea data collection programmes with respect to PET species bycatch.
WGBYC prepared tables and plots describing data reporting in 2022, multi-annual bycatch rates and estimates, and prepared draft text to contribute to the 2023 recurrent advice drafting process.

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ICES (2023). Working Group on Bycatch of Protected Species (WGBYC). ICES Scientific Reports/Rapports scientifiques du CIEM. 5 (111). 334pp..,

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