How to Interpret Results

You may find our Interpretation Video Tutorial useful.

So I have a list of species in my results window and Summary report.  Now what?
Ok, I have designated a fishery, selected some species to display and have a bunch of Comprehensive Species Reports.  What am I looking at?

Alright, I can see to which species my gear might pose the most risk.  What should I do now?

So I have a list of species in my results window and Summary report.  Now what?

Within the Results window, a little bit of time spent sorting your results can give you an idea of the species which might be of most immediate concern in your fishery.  See the sections entitled The Results Window and Results Table in the Help sections above. 

Sorting by IUCN status will flag the species in your area of interest which are of most critical conservation concern, and sorting by population size can also help you see which species have low numbers, and therefore for which even low levels of bycatch could be significant. 

You can also immediately see whether the species in your list have any documented gear interactions; to see which specific types of gear the species has been documented in, and obtain references and other notes, you will need to generate a Comprehensive Species Report for the species of interest.

The fishery metrics (only produced for spatial queries designated from the map environment) are two inverse views of overlap between a seabird species' range and your fishery area. Percent of species' range in fishery area will give you an idea of how much of the species' range is covered by your fishery. All species where your fishery covers 100% of the range of the species are clearly of concern, because your fishery can have an impact on the entire species. Conversely, if your fishery covers only a small percentage of a seabird species' range, it is likely your fishery will have low impact on that species.  Percent of fishery where species occurs gives you an idea of how widespread the species is within your area of interest; higher figures here indicate that you are more likely to encounter the species throughout your fishery.

You can also see whether the species has been documented caught in fishing gear or not.  An undocumented species may only be so because it has not yet been recorded; this should not be taken to mean that the species is not susceptible to fishing gear.  See below under Known Interactions with Fishing Gear for more details.  

A Comprehensive Species Report also includes detailed information on diet, foraging strategies and behaviors, seasonal distribution in inshore and offshore waters, whether a species nests coastally and/or colonially and any protected status that the species is afforded by national or international legislation.  This information will permit you to round out an assessment of the specific fishery operation which you intend to execute, based on time of year, gear type et cetera.

Harlequin Duck Histrionicus histrionicus British Columbia, Canada. Photo by Alan Wilson.

Ok, I have designated a fishery, selected some species to display and have a bunch of Comprehensive Species Reports.  What am I looking at?

For the definition of specific terms used in the report, please see our Definitions page.

Foraging Ecology

This section provides basic information about diel habits of foraging, prey species, where and how the species obtains its food, its diving abilities and if it is known to follow ships.  "Unknown" in any of the fields indicates that this subject has not been studied for this species. 

Distribution and Seasons

This section provides information about where the species is likely to be found throughout the year, the nature of its nesting habits, its sociability at sea, as well as two metrics that relate to the area of interest you described when you started your query.  These two metrics are the percent of your fishery where this species occurs and the percent of the species’ entire range which falls within your fishery. 

N.B.  These metrics will not be produced for a report obtained through an Explore by Species query. 

The calendar considers one land zone and two oceanward zones: inshore (0-5km seaward) and offshore (beyond 5 km), and is intended to help you understand during which months the species is most likely to be in which portion of the marine environment.  In highly pelagic species (e.g. Procellariiformes) the onshore months are generally those during which they are incubating eggs and raising young but they still depend on the marine environment for foraging.  Some species, such as sea ducks, gulls and loons, may vacate the marine environment entirely for several months during their breeding season.  Other species may use both marine and onshore environments year-round.  

It must be remembered that the phenologies represent movements for the vast majority of individuals of a species.  Even in fully migratory species, some non-breeding individuals may stay on wintering grounds while the majority of the population has displaced to the breeding grounds. Gulls (e.g. Larus, Chroicocephalus, Leucophaeus, Ichthyaetus) and albatrosses (Family Diomedeidae), are not sexually mature for several years. Furthermore, particularly amongst the albatrosses, young birds and sabbatical birds do not follow the typical migratory patterns of breeding conspecifics, and may show up in places outside their mapped range (See e.g. Jaeger et al. 2014 and Weimerskirch et al. 2014 — citations below).  

The Ecology Notes field provides additional information from the literature which may be of use in determining risk or mitigation strategies.  This field may also point out key references which could be consulted further; these references are found in the lower section entitled Ecology References.

Waved Albatross Phoebastria irrorata courtship display, Española, Galápagos, Ecuador.  Photo by David Wiedenfeld.  


Known Interactions with Fishing Gear

If a species has any sort of known capture/entanglement in fishing gear, whether active or derelict, it receives a Yes for Gear Interaction.  

It is important to note that the information on gear interactions provided herein is binary (yes/undocumented), and does not attempt to quantify the impact of a particular gear on a particular species. Other authors have often done so, and such references are to be found in the Gear Notes field. The absence of a particular species in a particular gear type does not imply that the species is not vulnerable to that gear type, simply that such information has not yet been recorded. Warp strikes from trawl gear, for instance, may go unnoticed by observers.  For several gear types (e.g. pair trawls), there is virtually no bycatch information available, but these gear types should not be regarded as bycatch-free. By the same token, there are many species (and species groups) which are poorly known and thus remain undocumented in gear, not necessarily by virtue of the fact that they are not caught, but possibly because they are not correctly identified. Bycaught seabirds are frequently unidentifiable to species, so there is inherently information that is not captured by this database. See here for more information about the limitations on observer data.   

A checked box for a specific gear category indicates that a species has been documented interacting negatively with gear (generally this means being captured and detained), but does not necessarily imply mortality.  These individuals may suffer mortality and/or injuries, or may have been released alive; a penguin hooked but released alive demonstrates the species’s susceptibility to the gear.  These released alive individuals may or may not have sustained fatal injuries, and under other circumstances may well have drowned. 

For information on the classification of gear types, please see the section Gear Interactions and Classification under Documentation

A species may have Yes indicating known gear interactions but not have a checked box in any subsidiary gear types.  This is usually because the literature does not provide sufficient description of the gear to place it confidently in one category or another; any further information will be in the Gear Notes field.  

For some species, impacts include striking fishing vessels; this is usually caused by disorientation due to night lighting.  This information is recorded in the Gear Notes field.  Any risk assessments, demographic modeling or useful synthetic resources regarding the species’ interaction with gear will be provided here.  All references for gear interactions are in the section entitled Gear Interaction References.

**It must be noted that very poorly known species (noted in the species accounts in the Ecology Notes field) are unlikely to show up in fisheries queries, as their ranges are poorly known and mapped, and this is usually only to breeding islands and surrounding waters.  The table on our Poorly Known Species page should help to determine whether any of these species are in your area of interest.  

Jaeger, A., Goutte, A., Lecomte, V. J., Richard, P., Chastel, O., Barbraud, C., Weimerskirch, H., and Cherel, Y. 2014. Age, sex, and breeding status shape a complex foraging pattern in an extremely long-lived seabird. Ecology 95:2324–2333.

Weimerskirch, H., Cherel, Y., Delord, K., Jaeger, A., Patrick, S.C., and Riotte-Lambert, L. 2014. Lifetime foraging patterns of the wandering albatross: Life on the move!  Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 450: 68–78.

Alright, I can see to which species my gear might pose the most risk.  What should I do now?

The basic approaches to mitigation include changing spatio-temporal characteristics of fishing activities and modifying gear and/or fleet behavior in order to minimize the chances of seabird interaction with the fishery and gear in question. 

It may be that changing the month in which a fishery starts or the location of sets with respect to seabird colonies could make a difference for particular species. Night-setting is a technique that excludes diurnal foragers from bycatch risk. Your Comprehensive Species Reports provide the details necessary to guide you through this sort of decision-making.  The resources on our General Mitigation and Gear-specific Mitigation pages should give you ideas about applications possible for your particular circumstances. 

Technical modifications have been developed for a few specific gear types: the resources on our General Mitigation and Gear-specific Mitigation pages should help you locate some of the best ones for your gear.  For some gear types, there has been little to no research; this is fertile ground for developing new and improved techniques to help limit bycatch in these systems.