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What we're doing

Ben Sullivan

Image: The RSPB

Hi, I'm Ben Sullivan, and, as part of the team investigating the shocking decline in albatross numbers, my job brings me in direct contact with the devastating impacts that longline fishing hooks are having on the world's albatrosses.

One dead albatross is one too many, and to think that tens of thousands are dying needlessly each year fills me with horror and sadness. Especially as we know how to stop the problem.

Fishermen are often unaware that through simple and cost effective techniques they can rapidly reduce albatross deaths.

Along with a range of BirdLife International Partners, we therefore wanted to create a global team to work with fishermen, onshore and at sea, to spread the message about these life-saving techniques. This team would also complement observers already on boats recording seabird deaths from fishing.

The Albatross Task Force

We got our wish in 2005 with the formation of the Albatross Task Force - the world's first international team of skilled, at-sea instructors.

Albatross Task Force teams are based in the bycatch 'hotspots' of southern Africa and South America, where albatrosses come into contact with large and diverse longline and trawl fishing fleets.

Since its formation, we have seen dramatic reductions in the numbers of albatrosses 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.

The Albatross Task Force is managed by BirdLife Partner organisations around the world, and co-ordinated by the Global Seabird Programme from its headquarters at the RSPB.

Going to extremes

Being part of the Albatross Task Force is no easy job, and our team must be prepared for:

  • going to sea in all kinds of weathers in some of the wildest oceans of the world
  • using the right language and skills to build respect and credibility with fishing crews
  • listening to fishermen's experience to feedback into the work
  • convincing fishermen to use practical techniques to avoid albatrosses dying horrible deaths on hooks
  • targeting problem fisheries, where we know lots of albatrosses and seabirds die

What can you do?

You don't have to be a member of the Task Force to help albatrosses - the simple act of donating to our campaign will ensure we can continue this vital work to save these magnificant birds from extinction.

From as little as £5 you will be making a difference - we can buy a weight for a longline to make it sink more quickly, taking the hooks out of reach of the birds. For £25 you can buy a seabird identification kit, while double that funds a set of streamer (tori) lines to scare birds away from baited hooks. You can even sponsor a Task Force member by becoming a Patron of the Albatross Task Force.

Lots of you have already helped us raise money for this campaign - check out what other people have done in our how you can help section.

Thank you so much for your support.

Buy a 'lifeline' for albatross

Help us equip fishermen with specially designed weights on their fishing lines to prevent albatrosses from being hooked and killed.

Keep an albatross off the hook!

How you can help

Black browed Albatross, Falklands Islands

As a Friend of the Albatross, your regular donation will ensure that we have the funds to continue the vital work of saving these graceful ocean wanderers.

Become a Friend of the Albatross