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A breakthrough in South Korea: A week to be proud of for the Save the Albatross campaign

Last modified: 30 November 2012

Albatross task force

Albatross Task Force at work

Image: Grahame Madge

This week BirdLife and South Korea held a joint workshop in Busan, marking a major step forward for our work with the Asian distant water tuna fleets.

At the workshop, Korean captains and industry representatives took the first steps to develop collaborative at-sea trials with BirdLife in 2013.

These trials will identify the most effective combinations of seabird bycatch reduction measures for the Korean vessels, also ensuring that the measures ensure crew safety and have no impact on target catch. This work was pioneered by Dr Kim from the Korean Government, along with Dr Ross Wanless from BirdLife South Africa and Dr Cleo Small from the RSPB.

Dr Cleo Small, senior policy officer for the Global Seabird programme, said: “This has been a week to be proud of for the Save the Albatross Campaign thatnks to the Korean Government, which has placed its trust in us to work collaboratively with their fleet.

“We are confident that with the at-sea trial we will demonstrate to Korean industry that they will be able to reduce the number of albatrosses killed by over 80%, while ensuring crew safety and target catch, which are understandably highly important for them. The plan is to test bird scaring lines together with line weighting options and night setting.”

The workshop was followed by a visit to one of the Korean longline vessels, to get acquatinted with the set up of these vessels and how seabird bycatch mitigation measures can be incorporated. Distant water Asian fleets (Korea, Taiwan, Japan) represent around 80% of longline fishing in areas overlapping with albatrosses on the high seas. These vessels are now required by the world’s five tuna commissions to use at least two seabird bycatch mitigation measures in areas overlapping with albatrosses. In the Atlantic Ocean, strengthened measures come into force in July 2013; and in the Indian Ocean, these requirements will become active in January 2014.

The RSPB and BirdLife have played a significant getting these requirements in place.

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