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.
The Albatross Task Force (ATF) not only aims to educate fishermen about the work we do and implement the solutions into tangible rules within the fishing industry, but we also aim to educate the public and other researchers within the realm of seabird bycatch.
Once a team has implemented the best practice measures to reduce seabird bycatch in a fishery, further research can help refine measures to ensure they are as efficient, practical and economical as possible. New and emerging devices/measures also require scientific trials each year for the various fisheries.
It is important to share and present this research to academics and researchers within the environmental field. This is often done through the publishing of papers in scientific journals or more commonly during conferences. These conferences give researchers the chance to give oral presentations on the work they conduct, but more importantly provide a chance for comment or positive criticism to improve the work.
Most recently I was able to present at a local conference held in Port Elizabeth: BirdLife South Africa / Percy Fitz Patrick Institute of African Ornithology Ornithological Conference. The conference was a two day event in which researchers from various levels (from students to professors) were able to present their research on all sorts of bird species (from secretary birds to seabirds). In particular I was able to present the long-term data set of seabird bycatch within the South African deep-sea trawl fishery and obtain feedback on the methods used to come up with the latest bycatch figure for this fishery. Another presentation was given on the results of the Safe Lead experiment conducted during the past 3 years. The work of the ATF was positively received and I think stood out as some of the best scientific research being conducted by an environmental NGO (possibly I am biased though!!!).
Presenting within this environment has provided me with the opportunity to acquire new skills including the creation of a colourful and interesting talk (using PowerPoint), good speaking skills, quick thinking in order to answer any questions posed and putting across complex ideas in simple terms for all levels of people to understand. We are now working on submitting this work to a scientific journal where it can be accessed by researchers around the world!
The image below is of the conference delegates that attended the meetings in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.