Task Force II

Advancing protection of endangered species

The health of our oceans and the future of sustainable seafood rely on robust biodiversity. However, endangered species are under increasing threat due to human activities, with seafood production playing a significant role.

Task force leader

In accordance with our Endangered Species Strategy, SeaBOS members have agreed to conduct rigorous internal due diligence to identify and understand their exposure to risks related to endangered species. We prioritize engaging with science-based best practices and continuously innovate to mitigate these risks. Our collaborative approach extends beyond our operations to include our supply chains and other industry actors. Through these strategic efforts, we are working towards science-based operational measures that substantially reduce the risk of harm to endangered elasmobranch and seabird species.

  1. Implement measures to significantly lower risks to endangered sharks, rays, and seabirds from our operations and supply chains by Oct 2022.
  2. Publish a “best practice” list for limiting harm to these species by Jan 2022.
  3. Develop a framework for monitoring and reporting species interactions by May 2022, for adoption in Oct 2022.
  4. Report progress towards Goal 1 and mitigation actions in Oct 2023 and Oct 2025.
  5. Using lessons from initial phase, expand SeaBOS endangered species work scope from Oct 2023, aiming to gradually eliminate all negative impacts on endangered species.

SeaBOS´ ambition is to align its work with global biodiversity goals and standards, including the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and work to develop and implement best practices in seafood production.

Our actions & impact (2023)

SeaBOS members are committed to protecting endangered species. Below is an overview of our member companies’ initial actions for this task force.

Conducted a biodiversity risk assessment including IUCN red list species


Science outlook

Scope, scale and urgency of action

Seafood production is directly dependent on, and can fundamentally affect, the functioning of ecosystems. Species such as sharks, seabirds and rays are critically important for aquatic foodchains, but their populations have declined sharply. Currently, 31% of all seabird species are globally threatened according to the IUCN Red List, and almost half of all species have declining populations. Similarly, shark and ray populations in tropical, subtropical and oceanic ecosystems have declined by over 75% and 71%, respectively. For oceanic sharks, these declines have been attributed to an 18-fold increase in fishing pressure, while entanglement in fishing gear remains the single greatest threat to sea turtles. Long-term studies of albatross species in the south Atlantic Ocean indicate that fisheries are the primary driver of 40-60% population declines, and the extinction risk for sharks and rays exceeds that of any other category calculated by the IUCN Red List.

Increase in extinction risk of oceanic sharks. Global RLI for the 31 oceanic shark species (black line) estimated in 1980, 2005 and 2018, and for mammals, birds, amphibians, reef-forming corals and cycads (in grey) (Pacoureau et al. 2021). Copyright © 2021, Pacoureau et al., under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited

Pathways forward

The seafood industry has the power to do something about this challenge, and previous work to reduce negative impacts on seabirds illustrates that concerted efforts can generate significant results. Implementation of bycatch regulations in the Namibian hake fishery, for instance, reduced albatross mortality by 94%. Understanding risks, engaging with high-risk areas, and spreading knowledge about what works, can ensure that best practices are used, normalized, and legislated. Participating in regional initiatives to identify Important Shark and Ray Areas (ISRAs) and supporting the implementation of corresponding management measures will encourage and rapidly normalize uptake of best practice. Moving beyond elasmobranchs and seabirds to other threatened species will be critical for ensuring the resilience of marine ecosystems and seafood operations.

Case studies

A strategy for endangered species

In 2021, SeaBOS members established a strategy for addressing negative impacts on endangered species. The first step was to establish a scientific assessment of best practices, published in 2022. SeaBOS companies started to report on risks and impacts on endangered species in 2023 and is developing its risk management approaches. Joint efforts will continue going forward.

Preventing bycatch of seabirds

Fishing companies in the Nissui Group have introduced a variety of measures to prevent the bycatch of seabirds. These include Tori lines (as shown above) – a device that prevents birds from approaching the bait by towing a rope to which streamers and tapes are attached. Other measures include using bafflers (a metal scarecrow) to scare birds away, weights to lower towing lines from bird flight paths; trawling at night when fewer birds are around; managing offal onboard to avoid attracting birds; and, having a bycatch reduction management plan for every vessel.

Lead companies

Lead scientific institutions