Good South African albatross news

This video says about itself:

Photographer Frans Lanting talks of his epic journey to capture images of the albatross, a hauntingly beautiful bird enshrined in legend and poetry.

From Wildlife Extra:

South African albatross deaths cut dramatically

A new method of scaring albatrosses away from trawl fishing lines in South Africa has dramatically reduced the number of birds accidentally drowned by becoming entangled.

South Africa’s 100-year-old and most economically valuable fishery is trawling for hake. Each day’s catch of fish is processed on board the ship while the fishing continues. This means that the unused parts of the fish that are discarded overboard attract huge numbers of seabirds such as albatrosses that scavenge on the offal. While scavenging these seabirds, and especially albatrosses, are vulnerable to colliding with the trawl cables which hold the net. They easily become entangled in the cable, and end up being dragged underwater and drowned.

Historical research has shown that in 2006 approximately 18,000 seabirds were killed by the South African hake trawl fishery, of which 14,000 were albatrosses.

Following the use of the bird scaring devices – streamers costing under $200 (£118) that hang from a line attached to the stern of a fishing vessel – Dr Ross Wanless, Seabird Conservation Programme Manager for BirdLife South Africa, reported in the journal Animal Conservation, that, “the device has significantly contributed towards reducing the impact of the South African trawl fishery sector on albatross populations. The research reports an astonishing reduction of up to 95 per cent in the number of albatrosses that are killed accidentally during normal fishing operations.”

By reviewing data over five years the research team assessed the impact of bird scaring lines. The results showed that bird scaring lines alone resulted in 73 to 95 per cent lower mortality in the winter, including a 95 per cent reduction in albatross deaths.

Albatrosses are the most threatened group of birds on earth, with fishery-related deaths being their biggest threat. Due to the many months they spend at sea at a time, albatrosses produce few offspring, which means that these deaths have a disproportionately damaging impact on the global population.

Seabirds are one of the world’s most highly threatened groups of birds,” said Dr Wanless. “The use of the bird scaring lines by the trawl sector has changed a situation where thousands of albatrosses were dying every year, to what we see today, where fewer than 100 accidental deaths occur. This is a great conservation success story that all of South Africa should be proud of.”

Since the South African hake trawl fishery obtained Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification in 2004, it has attempted to reduce its impacts on the ecosystem and these bird scaring lines are part of that committment.

See also here.

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