Integrating invasive mammal eradications and biodiversity offsets for fisheries bycatch: conservation opportunities and challenges for seabirds and sea turtles

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The removal of invasive mammals from islands is one of society's most powerful tools for preventing extinctions and restoring ecosystems. Given the demonstrable high conservation impact and return on investment of eradications, new networks are needed to fully leverage invasive mammal eradications programs for biodiversity conservation at-large. There have been over 800 invasive mammal eradications from islands, and emerging innovations in technology and techniques suggest that island area will soon no longer be the limiting factor for removing invasive mammals from islands. Rather, securing the necessary social and economic capital will be one main challenge as practitioners target larger and more biologically complex islands. With a new alliance between conservation practitioners and the fisheries sector, biodiversity offsets may be a promising source of capital. A suite of incentives exists for fisheries, NGOs, and governments to embrace a framework that includes fishery bycatch offsets for seabirds and sea turtles. A bycatch management framework based on the hierarchy of “avoid, minimize, and offset” from the Convention on Biological Diversity would result in cost-effective conservation gains for many threatened seabirds and sea turtles affected by fisheries. Those involved with island conservation and fisheries management are presented with unprecedented opportunities and challenges to operationalize a scheme that will allow for the verifiable offset of fisheries impacts to seabirds and sea turtles, which would likely result in unparalleled marine conservation gains and novel cross-sector alliances.

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