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.
When the Albatross Task Force (ATF) was launched, at a dinner in the city of London in 2005, there was a feeling of hope in the air that we might be able to do something practical to slow down the rate that albatrosses were being killed in the fisheries of the Southern hemisphere. We said that we wanted 6 instructors working with fishermen showing them how to use tori lines and other methods that would prevent seabirds becoming casualties.
Seven years on, we now have 17 instructors working in 8 countries and they have achieved considerable success. Much of this is down to the instructors tenacity, persistence, hard work and courage. However, they would have achieved little without a large number of unsung heroes. I refer to the people who provide the bulk of the £500,000 a year that the Global Seabird programme needs to carry out its vital work.
I spend a lot of my time raising funds for the ATF and one of the most rewarding parts of my role is meeting many of the people who, not only care passionately about albatrosses but take personal actions to make a difference. I believe the phrase is ‘putting your money where your mouth is’
Typical of these ‘unsung heroes’ are Charles Odinot, his wife Pieta and his 17 year old neighbour, Evita Meerding. They visited us at the Lodge last week from Holland and presented us with a cheque for the ATF of£1750.
After an Antarctic holiday, on a sailing ship called the Bark Europa, Charles retuned to Holland inspired by albatrosses and determined to do something about their plight. So after co-opting Evita to help him, he set up a website called Albatross World http://www.albatross-world.nl and then they set about publicising it. They sold pictures, asked for donations from friends and strangers, held stalls at local events, carried out a sponsored run and got lots of publicity in the media, including in national newspapers and radio.
Fund raising is not easy. The ATF would not exist without the kind of determination, to do something, shown by Charles and Evita. This is just one heart warming story and there are many more in the UK and around the globe. With this kind of support we know that we will ultimately bring the needless deaths of albatrosses and other seabirds to an end.
A big thank you from us all at the RSPB and the ATF to Charles, Pieta and Evita and to all the other tireless fundraisers who are making a difference.
RSPB Supporter Relations Manager