Thousands of albatrosses die needlessly every year as the victims of longling fishing. They are attracted to the baited hooks, get caught and are dragged under the water and drown.
Fishermen are often unaware of the simple, cost effective techniques that when used rapidly reduce albatross deaths.
In 2005, along with a number of our BirdLife International partners, the Albatross Task Force was formed. These men and women are the world's first international team of skilled, at-sea instructors.
Since their formation, there have been a dramatic reduction in the numbers of albatross and other seabirds killed. This is a sure sign that Albatross Task Force members really are getting something practical done to help save albatrosses from extinction.
This blog follows the trials and tribulations of the Albatross Task Force as they work onshore and at sea, spreading the message about these life-saving techniques.
During the last few weeks, we have been working on-shore on a variety of tasks including activities with fishers, fishing companies and governmental representatives. After two trips on the Sirius III, a 60 metre 'fresh' trawler (which keeps its catch on ice), we have been arranging a trip on a 'freezer' trawler (keeps catch frozen) which will leave port sometime in the next couple of weeks.
We will be able to compare the two fishery types and trial the use of different mitigation measures. The trip will be about 30-40 days long on southern waters.
During time on-shore we have discussed mitigation methods with Diego González-Zevallos from Puerto Madryn, Argentina. Diego is one of the winners of the Smart Gear award for the utilization of traffic cones as a mitigation measures to reduce the impact of warp cables on seabird mortality. He has extensive experience in the use of the cones in provincial 'fresh' trawlers.
Also, we have been in touch with Barry Watkins from ATF South Africa because he has been doing experiments with cones on the South African fleet. Barry has also designed a tori-line (bird scaring line) for trawlers and we will try to make some trials on Argentinean trawler fleet to see if the set up works here.
We also have some very good news about mitigation measures for the longline fleet. The Argentinean Federal Fisheries Council (CFP) has passed a resolution to adopt the use of mitigation measures that reduce the seabird capture in all vessels that operate longlines in Argentinean waters.
The mandatory measures include:
It is hoped that these measures have a swift effect in reducing the current levels of seabird mortality plus that caused by any future increase in the fleet.
We have been maintaining contact with the fishing companies in order to further explain the objectives of ATF project and to raise awareness into the main companies in Mar del Plata harbour. It is important to generate confidence within the sector to facilitate work with fishers and the implementation of appropriate mitigation measures onboard.