The last two months have been quite hectic. The work has been great fun and really rewarding capped by a really good sea trip at the end of May. I continued with the tori line experiments that I have been doing for the last nine months. This work has proved to be really successful showing fishermen that tori lines are really effective mitigation measures in trawl fisheries in Namibia. So far we have not had a single seabird/gear interaction while flying tori lines.
On my last sea trip bird densities were again high now that the breeding season is over and the birds have come across from their breeding colonies on South Georgia, Gough, Marion and the islands around New Zealand. The nutrient rich foraging grounds in the Benguela Current are a real attraction during the winter months. Namibian waters are now heaving with hungry birds which, of course means this is also the time when interactions are highest with fisheries so it is vital that we are out working with the industry to incorporate mitigation measures. This is proving relatively easy in Namibia as each new vessel I go to sea with, the crew are all positive and want tori lines to use on all their fishing trips.
On my last trip I had a new experience when a juvenile Atlantic Yellow-nosed albatross landed on the forecastle deck and couldn’t gain enough of a run-up to take off again. It is not often that one gets to handle such a magnificent bird alive. With the assistance of the crew I put a ring on this bird to help identify that it survived its ordeal and released it again. This was a real privilege for me. It was probably the first albatross ringed in Namibian waters.
After that trip I took part in a briefing with the fishing industry at senior management level where I was able to update them on our work and major findings. The response was as good as we could hope for as they showed great interest in our work and expressed a desire to voluntarily adopt best practice mitigation measures in the trawl fishery. This is a really positive attitude and we will be working closely with the industry to make sure that all the correct instructions are in place to build and deploy mitigation according to specification. This will mean training workshops and practical demonstrations over the weeks to come on many of the vessels. A busy and interesting period lies ahead.