1.1. Introduction to the organization
BirdLife International is a global Partnership of autonomous, national non-governmental conservation organisations, with a large grassroots membership, in 120 countries and territories. BirdLife works together as a Partnership to conserve wild birds, their habitats and global biodiversity, by working with people towards sustainability in the use of natural resources. BirdLife is the global authority on the status of bird species, has unparalleled technical expertise in bird and biodiversity assessment, and provides a global outreach through its national Partners and decentralised Secretariat.
BirdLife Europe and Central Asia is the regional division of BirdLife International, and is one of the six BirdLife regional offices around the world. It is composed of an international team of permanent staff working on conservation, capacity building, policy, management, finance, fundraising, advocacy, science, communication, marketing and administration. BirdLife Europe supports the European and Central Asia Partnership of BirdLife International, which consists of 48 independent, grassroots Civil Society Organisations, governed by a democratic programme.
BirdLife Europe and Central Asia is looking for a consultant to carry out a study on the effectiveness of marine protected areas (MPAs) and other time-area closures in reducing bycatch of vulnerable species (specifically seabirds, marine mammals, sea turtles and elasmobranchs).
1.2. Introduction to the project
By catch is one of the main threats to the profitability and sustainability of fisheries, and represents a significant threat to wider marine biodiversity and the conservation and welfare of marine vulnerable species in the Mediterranean.
The MedBycatch Project is a partnership between the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and contiguous Atlantic area (ACCOBAMS), the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Specially Protected Areas Regional Activity Center (SPA/RAC) of the United Nations Environment Programme/Mediterranean Action Plan (UN Environment/MAP), the International Union for Conservation of Nature – Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation (IUCN-Med), BirdLife Europe and Central Asia (BL ECA) and the Mediterranean Association to Save the Sea Turtles (MEDASSET).
It aims to address knowledge gaps regarding the bycatch of vulnerable species during fishing operations in the Mediterranean, support the testing of mitigation measures and support the formulation of national/regional strategies to reduce incidental catches and support the sustainability of fisheries. Project implementation involves field observation programmes (on-board, at landing site and through self-sampling) across different fishing gear (i.e. bottom trawls, gillnets and demersal longlines), together with training, awareness raising, and identification and testing of mitigation techniques. It aims to develop tools and build knowledge applicable to the entire Mediterranean and Black Sea area and beyond. In this context, a standardized regional protocol for data collection on incidental catches of vulnerable species – elasmobranchs, sea turtles, marine mammals, seabirds and macrobenthic invertebrates – has been developed. The project plans to leverage change within all of the coastal Mediterranean countries on the issue of incidental catch of vulnerable species, including through communication and advocacy activities with the fishing industries and decision makers.
2. OVERALL PURPOSE OF JOB
The incidental capture of marine vulnerable species in fishing gear – known as bycatch – represents an important conservation issue globally. To date a significant focus has been dedicated to the identification, development, testing and application of technical measures – either changes or modifications to fishing gear or to fishing practices – to reduce the impact of bycatch on affected taxa and species. Spatiotemporal measures that permanently, or temporarily, exclude certain (or all) fishing activities from defined areas (e.g. MPAs, OECMs, fisheries time-area closures) have received relatively less attention. These measures can reduce bycatch by exploiting variations in the degree of spatial or temporal overlap between target and bycatch species. Fisheries time-area closures are typically implemented temporarily or seasonally and often only prohibit a single gear type, rather than all fishing; therefore, they may not fulfil the criteria to be classified as OECMs and as such are considered separately.
1.1. Introduction to the organization