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.
In the Albatross Task Force we are extremely proud of the dedicated individuals who perform a very challenging role for seabird conservation - working with the fishing industry, government and observer agencies both on-shore and at-sea to demonstrate, introduce and implement mitigation measures to keep albatross off the hook. It gives us great pleasure to announce that one of the stars of the ATF has received international recognition for their efforts.
Bronwyn Maree has been with the ATF since 2008, based in Cape Town, South Africa where she is ATF team leader. Bronwyn has been presented with a prestigious international conservation award, having been selected in the top three of 126 candidates from 58 countries - an amazing achievement and thoroughly deserved recognition for all her hard work.
Have you ever asked yourself what the world would be like without wild animal and plants species? It is not a picture we would like to imagine...and one the Future for Nature Foundation aims to prevent from occurring. The foundation supports young, talented and ambitious conservations that are committed to protecting endangered species through the presentation of an annual award.
The Future for Nature award encourages individuals to become conservation leaders and opens doors to an international network of dedicated conservationists who are able to provide learning support, mentoring and financial assistance. The award highlights individuals who can be seen as role models who can pass on their passion and love of nature conservation to other young people, while stimulating the individual to continue their outstanding efforts in protecting endangered species.
Bronwyn was selected for achieving substantial and long-term benefits to the conservation status of albatross and petrels, and showing leadership and innovation in her work. Seabird mortality, particularly of albatross species in South Africa has been reduced significantly since the introduction of mitigation measures in the hake fisheries and this reduction has been maintained over several years now. Without individuals like Bronwyn this would never have been possible.
On receiving the news Bronwyn said she “was extremely honoured and excited to receive news just two days before Christmas!” Along with the international recognition this award brings for her work with albatrosses, 50 000 Euros is granted to be used for a project of her choice. Bronwyn explained that “this will go a long way towards ensuring that the world will never be without albatross!”
Congratulations Bronwyn from all at the RSPB for your extremely well-deserved award!!! Keep up the great work.
Below: Bronwyn on field work duty at Marion Island, South Atlantic
Today I just want to pay tribute to my lifelong hero and role model Tata Nelson Mandela. His death really struck a chord in my heart that was never struck before. I guess it is true what they say when they say ‘you never know what you have until it is gone’. His death has sturred up emotions in me I never knew I had, it moved me in ways I have never been moved. In all honesty I just couldn’t hold back the litres of tears that filled my eyes. I was out onboard one of the local trawl vessels when I heard the news on the vessel radio and screened on the television. That night I had a sleepless night as I was coming to terms with the loss of this great giant of our nation (South Africa).
Tata Mandela means different things to different people. To me he is the personification of hope. He is signifies the hope that we should always strive for in humanity. To me he is the man who freed the prisoner and the prison guard. I have drawn many life lessons from his life but the most significant one was to never give up.
I want to apply the lessons I observed from him to my own life but not just to my life but also to my job as a member of the Albatross Task Force. I want to continue his legacy by extending on his legacy in my own style. I want to continue his legacy of hope and never giving up fighting for seabirds. I will walk the walk for freeing seabirds.
Today's blog is from Luis Cabezas, ATF team leader in Chile who explains some of the challenges faced this year with the small-scale fishing fleet in Chile.
Amongst the challenges ATF Chile faced in 2013 was developing a preliminary understanding of how the artisanal or small scale fleet interacts with seabirds, particularly the net fisheries. In Chile, the small-scale fleet is dominated by purse-seine vessels that target small pelagic fish like sardines and anchovy and gillnet vessels, which target a wide variety of species.
Artisanal vessels are recognised as those with a total length under 18 m. The majority of these vessels remain at sea for limited periods of time and generally have a small crew. The purse-seine vessels typically carry 10 to 12 people, while gillnet boats only carry two to four crew. Because of these size and capacity limitations, artisanal vessels rarely work beyond 5 nautical miles offshore.
In poor weather conditions, with rolling swells and strong winds it is simply not safe for these vessels to operate. As the south of Chile has frequent weather systems hitting the west coast from the Pacific, the Chilean port authorities maintain strict controls and will keep ports closed to small boats until conditions are considered calm enough. Rough weather therefore not only restricts artisanal fishermen from their work, but also prevents us from collecting the data we need.
2013 has been characterised by repeated rough weather up the Pacific coast, and we have been able to conduct a limited number of trips, which is extremely frustrating for the team. While poor sea conditions were the main problem this year, another factor also caused difficulties. Low catches of sardine and anchovy have resulted in fishery closures leading to further social conflicts between industrial and artisanal sectors in the central-southern regions of Chile.
We have seen different sides of the dispute as in previous years we worked aboard industrial vessels, which are able to brave all but the worst of sea conditions. It is a complex situation to deal with as the fishery resources are scarce despite being one of the most productive marine systems on the planet. Overfishing in the past and new regulations have created tough conditions for the artisanal sector in Chile.
With the weather and fisheries conflicts causing real grief throughout the winter, it was with great enthusiasm and cheer that the austral winter gave way to the calmer spring and summer months! As we move into full summer we are now generating the vessel time we need and are happily back into full swing.
Below: Interactions between purse-seine vessels and pelicans. These birds were released unharmed. Photo by Luis Cabezas.