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BLOG: All Hands on Deck for Threatened Manta and Devil Rays

Doctoral student Melissa Cronin of the University of California, Santa Cruz, was awarded the Grand Prize in ISSF’s Seafood Sustainability Contest in March 2020. Ms. Cronin won for her entry, “Incentivizing Collaborative Release to Reduce Elasmobranch Bycatch Mortality,” which proposed handling-and-release methods that purse-seine vessel skippers and crew can use to reduce the mortality of manta rays and devil rays incidentally caught during tuna fishing.

Her proposal called for cooperative workshops with purse-seine skippers and observers, offering financial rewards for the design, testing, and onboard implementation of feasible, scalable techniques for safely removing rays from vessel decks.

One year later, Ms. Cronin updates readers on the progress of her work, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’re taking a multi-pronged approach to developing Mobula bycatch solutions in Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean (ETPO) purse seine fisheries with skipper workshops, fisher surveys, onboard educational materials, and pilot bycatch mitigation technology development,” writes Ms. Cronin.

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Featured Report

ICYMI: Q&A About FADs and Bycatch

For more information on bycatch in tuna purse seine fisheries, consult ISSF’s recently updated technical report, Questions and Answers About FADs and Bycatch. Co-authored by ISSF scientists Dr. Hilario Murua, Ana Justel-Rubio, Dr. Gala Moreno and Dr. Victor Restrepo, as well as marine scientist Dr. Laurent Dagorn, the report addresses many timely inquiries and is illustrated throughout with charts and graphics.

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Featured Video

A video features Ms. Cronin, a Ph.D. candidate in the Conservation Action Lab at UC Santa Cruz studying Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, discussing her Grand-Prize-winning entry in ISSF’s Seafood Sustainability Contest. Learn more about her research experiences and winning idea.

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Featured Infographic

This poster for tuna fishers, shared courtesy of Ms. Cronin, shows five ray species found in tuna fisheries. It also provides location and life-cycle information and illustrates “acceptable” and “not acceptable” handling-and-release techniques to reduce ray bycatch.

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Featured Resource

In a new issue of Nature, ISSF scientists and colleagues outline four insights to improve fisheries management to reduce fishing risks on sharks (and mitigate shark bycatch) in longline fisheries.

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