Saving albatrosses from bycatch death

This video says about itself:

High-seas heroes saving albatrosses from extinction: a decade of success

8 June 2016

The Albatross Task Force (ATF), a team of experts led by the RSPB and BirdLife International, was launched ten years ago to reduce the number of albatrosses and petrels accidentally killed by fisheries in the Southern Ocean.

On World Oceans Day, this team of experts that works to prevent seabirds getting killed unintentionally in fishing lines is celebrating ten years of conservation success.

From BirdLife:

High-seas heroes saving albatrosses from extinction: a decade of success

By Shaun Hurrell, 8 June 2016

In 2004, 19 of the world’s 22 albatross species were threatened with extinction, due largely to commercial fishing practices. An international team of expert instructors has since spent a decade working with fishermen refining techniques to prevent these magnificent seabirds from needlessly dying behind fishing boats and has had great success!

A snapshot of ten years of the ATF: the smell of squid, the sound of the roaring waves, spending weeks at sea, building relationships with fishermen, being seasick, the agony of watching albatrosses drown on hooks knowing that there are chicks back on land waiting for them, the joy of watching such massive graceful birds soaring above the waves, seeking funding, teaching fishermen about birds, being laughed at, being respected, meeting in ports, meeting in board rooms, testing bird-scaring lines, testing them again, the pride in watching fishermen use the lines voluntarily, or ministers adopting them as law. It has been quite a ride.

But as Clemens Naomab, Albatross Task Force Instructor in Namibia, puts it:

“When you find out your work is going to save 30,000 birds a year in Namibia, it’s a wonderful experience.”

On World Oceans Day, the Albatross Task Force (ATF) is celebrating a decade of conservation success. The effort put in is paying off in saved seabirds.

Led by the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) for the BirdLife International Partnership, the ATF was launched to reduce the number of albatrosses and petrels accidently killed by fisheries in the Southern Ocean.

The ATF has been highly successful in that time – almost eliminating bycatch in some fisheries – through the introduction of bird-scaring lines, a simple solution which prevents seabirds from interacting with fishing equipment.

Thanks to their work, 7 out of the 10 fisheries originally identified as seabird bycatch hotspots have now adopted regulations to protect seabirds during fishing.

The ATF continues to work with local governments to ensure all target fleets are complying with the recommended mitigation methods, and is a large part of BirdLife’s Marine Programme.

Measures include the use of bird-scaring lines, setting baited hooks under the cover of darkness and weighting hook lines to help them sink rapidly out of reach of foraging birds.

Albatrosses are magnificent seabirds and it’s a truly breath-taking experience to see them at sea”, says Oliver Yates, ATF Programme Manager. “They are among the largest flying birds and have the largest wingspans of any bird in the world, reaching up to an incredible 3.5m.”

Albatrosses are one of the most threatened groups of birds in the world. Every year, an estimated 100,000 albatrosses are incidentally killed on longline fishing hooks and trawl cables. This fishery mortality is the main driver of albatross population declines, and 15 of the 22 species of albatross are still threatened with extinction today.

A new report shows that since its launch in 2006, the Albatross Task Force has been extremely successful. Albatross bycatch has been reduced by 99% in the South African hake trawl fishery and experimental trials demonstrate at least 85% reductions in seabird bycatch are possible in six other fisheries where regulations that require the use of bird-safe methods on their boats are now in place.

“BirdLife has proven this works with a decade of research, refining solutions and working with fishermen”,

said Patricia Zurita, Chief Executive of BirdLife International.

“Now it is time to expand this model worldwide so we can ensure no bird is needlessly caught by fisheries ever again in the future.”

This 2015 video is called Saving Albatrosses – How to Reduce Seabird Bycatch – BirdLife International.

Training scientists to save seabirds, by Berry Mulligan, 6 June 2016: here.

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