Fishing boat operating close to Dunnet Head RSPB reserve, Caithness, near Thurso, Scotland

Advocacy with fishery managers

We work with fishery managers at all levels.

The Albatross Task Force

As well as working directly with fishermen through the Albatross Task Force, the Save the Albatross Campaign works with fishery managers at national, regional and international levels.

The aim is to influence the development and adoption of agreements and measures to reduce seabird bycatch.

These include working with Regional Fisheries Management Organisations, the FAO and the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels.

We also have a place on the Marine Stewardship Council’s Stakeholder Council, to ensure this fisheries sustainability standard properly considers seabirds during the assessment process.

Regional Fisheries Management Organisations

Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) are the organisations through which countries collaborate to manage fish stocks on the high seas, as well as those that straddle the coastal waters of more than one country.

Under the UN Law of the Sea and linked agreements, RFMOs have a duty to minimise the bycatch of non-target species in their fisheries, including albatrosses, sharks and sea turtles.

In 2004, the BirdLife International Marine Programme conducted the first-ever environmental review of the world’s RFMOs, finding that most were not yet addressing bycatch effectively. We now work closely with RFMOs to press for assessment and reduction of bycatch. Significant progress has been made in the tuna commissions - all five now require their longline vessels to use bycatch reduction measures in most areas overlapping with albatrosses.

The Tracking Ocean Wanderers Database has been very important in our work with these organisations. It has enabled the overlap between seabird populations and fisheries to be mapped, making it possible to target our conservation efforts more effectively.

The five tuna commissions are: Commission for Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT), the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) and Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC).

FAO's National Plans of Action

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) helps developing countries and countries in transition, modernize and improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries practices and ensure good nutrition for all.

The International Plan of Action for Reducing Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries (IPOA-Seabirds) was developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 1998 to comply with the Code of FAO Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.

All countries are encouraged by the FAO to implement National Plans of Action (NPOAs) on seabird bycatch.

BirdLife works nationally to support development of effective NPOAs. In 2008-9, BirdLife also supported development of FAO’s Best Practice Technical Guidelines to guide effective NPOAs and to expand the IPOA to all fisheries, not just longlines.

The Agreement for the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP)

In early 2001 negotiations concluded on an international treaty, the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels.

This agreement requires signatory states (which includes the United Kingdom) to take specific measures to improve the conservation status of albatrosses and petrels. Measures include research and monitoring, reduction of incidental mortality in fisheries, eradication of non-native species at breeding sites, reduction of disturbance and habitat loss, and reduction of pollution.

The Agreement is established under the auspices of the Bonn Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species and is legally binding.

BirdLife is an observer organisation to ACAP, and plays an active role in all ACAP Working Groups. Amongst other issues, BirdLife provides ACAP with data on albatross and petrel Red List status, information from the Albatross Task Force, and our work with RFMOs. BirdLife has also co-led on the identification of Internationally Important Sites for ACAP species.

With ACAP, BirdLife have produced Mitigation Factsheets which detail the range of potential mitigation measures available to reduce seabird bycatch in longline and trawl fisheries. 

The Convention on Biological Diversity is currently the most prominent and comprehensive international biodiversity agreement. From a marine perspective, our work on the Convention on Biological Diversity has primarily focused on supporting the CBD’s work to identify Ecologically or Biologically Significant marine Areas (EBSAs) in need of protection.

This has involved extensive data compilation and analysis for all expert workshops convened to date, as well as influencing discussions at Conference of the Parties to the Convention.

Marine Stewardship Council

BirdLife is actively involved with the Marine Stewardship Council (regarded as the most robust fisheries sustainability certification scheme), through membership of its Stakeholder Council, and through commenting on individual fishery certifications.

Great skua Stercorarius skua, three in flight close to a fishing boat, in the vicinity of Dunnet Head RSPB reserve, Caithness, near Thurso, Scotland

Our Albatross Task Force blog