Some of the world’s richest longline fishing grounds coincide with key foraging areas for vulnerable seabird species. Even a partial overlap between foraging and fishing areas is significant, since small increases in albatross mortality can have severe effects on these long-lived birds.
Highly productive areas of the global oceans, such as upwellings and fronts, are of key importance to the world’s commercial longline fisheries. They are also the rich foraging grounds for seabirds vulnerable to being caught as bycatch, particularly albatrosses and petrels. For the past 15 or so years, scientists around the world have been attaching remote tracking devices to albatrosses and petrels to obtain a better idea of the areas of the ocean that they use. In a pioneering collaboration, coordinated by BirdLife International, these scientists have pooled their remote tracking data allowing analysis of global albatross distribution and producing a vital conservation tool (BirdLife 2004). The results show that albatrosses can frequently travel vast distances (up to 2,000 km/day) in search of food for themselves and their chicks, journeys which bring them into contact with a large proportion of the world’s fishing fleet. The database has identified the foraging hotspots that overlap with longline fishing effort (see figure). These are areas where high risk of seabird bycatch may be occurring, and has allowed targeting of bycatch mitigation efforts. Even a partial overlap in fishing/foraging areas is significant, since even small increases in albatross mortality can have severe effects on these long-lived birds.
Related Case Studies in other sections
compiled 2004, updated 2008
BirdLife International (2008) Longline fishing effort overlaps with foraging hotspots for seabirds. Presented as part of the BirdLife State of the world's birds website. Available from: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/166. Checked: 21/05/2013