Section 202(h)(1) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act calls on the Secretary of State, in cooperation with the Secretary of Commerce, to seek to secure international agreements to establish standards and measures for bycatch reduction that are comparable to the standards and measures applicable to U.S. fishermen if they conclude that it is necessary and appropriate. Similar provisions are also contained in both the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act.
In January 2002, the NMFS Office of Sustainable Fisheries International Fisheries Division (now the Office of International Affairs) convened the International Bycatch Reduction Task Force to develop a Plan of Action to implement the U.S. sea turtle bycatch strategy. The Task Force is comprised of NOAA and Department of State personnel. Although the initial focus of this group was to further discussions, and ultimately, the reduction of sea turtle bycatch in longline fisheries internationally, the issues of the incidental catch of seabirds in longline fisheries and the conservation and management of sharks were quickly added to the work of the Task Force.
The Plan of Action developed by the Task Force 1) implements the strategy to promote international agreements that reduce sea turtle bycatch in foreign longline fisheries; and 2) promotes the implementation of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) International Plan of Action (IPOA) for Reducing Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries and the FAO IPOA for the Conservation and Management of Sharks.
The following links provide information on current NOAA bycatch initiatives.