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.
A few days ago I was in contact with a fishery observer who is at-sea aboard a longline vessel gathering biological data near Staten Island to the south of Argentina. This boat must now use mitigation measures; one of which is a bird-scaring line to reduce albatross mortality. The Federal Fisheries Council, a government agency that regulates fishing in Argentina has included this requirement in fishery legislation.
Before his trip I met with him to help with the identification of seabird species and explain about our work in the design and development of streamer lines for longline vessels.
I asked the observer to send me weekly updates on the effectiveness of the streamer line to make sure that all was working well. I requested that he report on any mortality of seabirds and also the comments he receives from the sailors on this mitigation measure, as they were previously using a streamer line that was a lot shorter that did not effectively reduce the attacks of the albatross on baited hooks.
Through sustained communication with the fishing company and crew, we have built a relationship of trust from which we are now able to stay in touch with observers on board their vessels to monitor the effectiveness of our bird-scaring lines.
The news I have received so far has exceeded our expectations! Since we completed our experimental work the streamer lines are still working perfectly! The crew are using them without problems and the best thing is that there have been ZERO albatrosses killed!
Some comments from the sailors and the observer on board were "really works well, the materials are tough and we have not captured any albatross" This is great news since we have designed, tested and implemented a streamer line design that works effectively and prevents the capture of albatrosses on longline vessels in Argentine waters.
It gives us great pleasure to communicate this news to everyone, showing that through collaborative effort from all sectors we are continuing to save the albatross!
The image below shows Nahuel deploying a streamer line from the deck of a longline vessel in Argentina