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  • Blog Post: A small success

    On 14 August, I drove from Cape Town to Mossel Bay (a small port on our eastern Cape coast) through storm-ravaged countryside to join an inshore hake trawl vessel. The following morning, Rowan the skipper welcomed me onboard his 15-metre, 48-tonne vessel with a crew of eight. I had a few trepidations...
  • Blog Post: The impact of trawlers on albatrosses

    Barry and I spend as much time on deck as possible. Our main work is monitoring interactions between seabirds and the two warp cables at the stern. To do this, we sit for hours on end on the 'catwalk', a raised metal gantry above the stern of the boat. Barry's work has shown that it is...
  • Blog Post: Educating commercial and recreational fishermen to handle seabirds safely

    This month I thought it would be a good idea to follow on from one of my Brazilian colleague’s diaries which highlighted the poor attitude of some fishermen towards seabirds. His diary can be found here , as a reminder of the problem. I have only ever seen one or two birds with broken bills...
  • Blog Post: A unique and exciting experience

    First, allow me to introduce myself. My background is quite international: I was born in Mexico to a father from Chile and a mother from Brazil. I grew up in Israel, in a kibbutz up north. There I studied at The Environmental High School located in the desert at Sede Boker. Following military service...
  • Blog Post: Shy-type albatross between the warps!

    I recently returned from a routine Albatross Task Force at-sea trip onboard a conventional wet fish trawl vessel in Argentina (fish are stored on ice, but not frozen like on the larger freezer vessels). The trip lasted a total of 16 days and fishing was concentrated around 300 km east of the Valdéz...
  • Blog Post: First trawler trip for ATF Chile

    This was my first trip on a trawl vessel in Chile, with a fleet that targets common hake. We set off from the San Vincent port in the central southern part of Chile (around Latitude 36°S). The vessel is an industrial trawler and is pretty large, measuring 60 m which is much larger than the smaller...
  • Blog Post: A life history that deserves respect

    Without doubt, the albatross are one of the groups of seabirds that need our greatest conservation effort. Commercial fisheries, through incidental capture, have generated a huge impact in many populations and almost all the species are currently in danger of extinction. As they spend the main part of...
  • Blog Post: My first trip

    I spent time at sea for my first trip as an instructor onboard a 35 m longline vessel. The trip was short, lasting just eight days, so we only managed to set three lines before returning to port. During my time onboard, I discussed the need to reduce the access of the seabirds to the baited hooks while...
  • Blog Post: Experiments aboard commercial longline vessels in Uruguay

    In my most recent trip to sea, we set off for a period of eleven days from the port of La Paloma, located on the east coast of Uruguay. We had already partaken in various trips on this vessel, and so the crew already knew us well and they were happy to collaborate with our work again. We now have a much...
  • Blog Post: Walking the plank

    My first day finally arrived with some anticipation but also with some excitement. This was the day I was to set sail onboard a commercial trawler for the first time. This was my training trip for my new job as an Instructor for the South African Albatross Task Force Team. After two trips to sea had...
  • Blog Post: Longing for the big blue

    Hi albatross fans! It's been a long time since the last time I wrote. Too much 'dry land' business which confined me to my mother city. However, we had a visit from Ben Sullivan, manager of the Global Seabird Programme. It was really great to finally meet the guy who runs the show. Lots...
  • Blog Post: Rats!

    Today started grey and early, shimmering gloom but the forecast was good. Patches of clearing, glimpsed and snatched away again, but leaving a little more behind at each clearing. The Zodiac scrunched against the rock of Saddle Island; a strong swell but we scrabbled ashore on wet, slithery rocks...
  • Blog Post: Namibia helping conservation

    There are only two commercial harbours in Namibia: Walvis Bay to the north and Luderitz in the south. Sandwich harbour, a former fishing port, is now a proclaimed Ramsar site (i.e. a site designated for international protection due to its wetland wildlife importance). But, Walvis Bay is where we are...
  • Blog Post: Zero albatross killed thanks to ATF streamer lines!

    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...
  • Blog Post: A long-term task

    I am back to land after 22 days at sea and lots of fishing. This cruise gave me the opportunity to share important information with the crew of FV Yamaia III about keeping as many seabirds as possible safe. The fishing ground was between 23° to 26°S latitude and 37° to 44°W longitude...
  • Blog Post: Constantly on the move

    It's our third day at sea and the South Atlantic has been pretty kind to us. The wind seemed to be picking up as we left Stanley and the Falklands, raising a certain insistent noise through the rigging, but to little avail thus far, thankfully. Dolphins chased in the bow wave as we left the clean...
  • Blog Post: Progress in South Korea

    Ross Wanless, South African regional co-ordinator for the Global Seabird Programme reports back from a seabird bycatch workshop in South Korea, with some promising developments: Asian longline fleets account for ~90% of the fishing effort that overlaps with albatrosses. This meant that getting an...
  • Blog Post: Seabird-fisheries interaction workshop in Argentina

    From the 30 th November to the 2 nd December 2010, the ATF in Argentina and the Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata -CONICET organised the second intensive observer training course for Indentification and Recording of Seabird Interactions with Fisheries. The course was intended for fishery...
  • Blog Post: A nice surprise

    Hake feed at night close to the surface and return to the bottom in the morning. As a result, lines are set in the early morning. As in the tuna longlining, the birds are getting caught while trying to seize the baits during the setting of the line, but also getting caught on hooks while feeding on...
  • Blog Post: Tori lines help you fish better

    I've been at sea for 20 days. I have so much news to tell! We left Santos on June 6 and sailed to the Brazilian south coast. The sea conditions were so calm they permitted me to contemplate the beautiful days and sunsets during two days of sailing it took until we reached the fishing area. ...
  • Blog Post: Caught on the haul

    Recently I returned from my first trip working with the Albatross Task Force aboard the pelagic longline vessel “Maria Letícia”, from Torquato Pontes Fish Company. This boat sailed under captain Celso, a very experienced captain who specializes in catching tunas. Captain Celso...
  • Blog Post: Patience is often rewarded

    During the later half of June it was off to sea again on the Irvin & Johnson wet-fish trawler, the Stevia. Once again I was looking at making the tori lines (bird scaring lines) work their best to prevent seabird deaths. Naturally, winter is the season when seabirds are most abundant in our waters...
  • Blog Post: One year on and still growing

    It seems ages ago now, but it was in April last year that Samantha Petersen and I sat down one evening to draft the proprosal to set up an Albatross Task Force (ATF) in Namibia. The death rate of seabirds in Namibian waters is unacceptable. Last year, a report, The Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem...
  • Blog Post: Sweatin' for seabirds

    Hello, This is my a first blog post. A truly momentous day. It is thus only fitting that I commence this post the way that all good blog posts should commence: with a photo of two grown men sweating in bird costumes. One in orange pantaloons, the other in white leggings. Fortunately the photographer...
  • Blog Post: Stamp out the slaughter

    Photo: Grahame Madge (rspb-images.com) Black browed albatrosses (like those above) are stunning birds. A pure white head with a black eye line that any 60's model would have been proud of, and an impressive wingspan of up to 2.5m (around 8 feet in old money). Like other albatrosses they mature...