Longline fishing threatens Galapagos
Proposals to start longline fishing in the Galapagos could have a drastic impact on the number of globally threatened Waved Albatrosses which breed on the islands. The Waved Albatross Phoebastria irrorata is officially listed by BirdLife as Vulnerable, primarily due to deaths caused by longline fisheries off the coast of Peru.
While it is possible to limit the impacts of longline fishing on seabird populations by adopting damage-limitation measures, such as setting the lines at night or below the water's surface, this requires a serious commitment by governments and fisheries management bodies and has only been achieved in a handful of fisheries worldwide.
The Government of Ecuador (which is responsible for Galapagos) is a party to the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatross and Petrels (ACAP), and as such, has a duty to protect the conservation status of albatrosses and petrels.
"It would be a crime to allow longline fishing to decimate populations of many marine species, particularly the seabirds, sharks and turtles that would be killed if longline fishing is allowed to start unhindered in one of the world's most unique and exotic environments." —Ben Sullivan, BirdLife Global Seabird Programme Co-ordinator
Trials of longline fishing in the Galapagos last year have apparently shown extremely high levels of 'bycatch', particularly sharks and turtles, for which there are currently very few proven avoidance measures beyond reducing the amount of fishing.
If longline fishing needs to progress for social reasons it should only do so under stringent conditions to ensure the adoption of best practice mitigation measures and control of how and where longline fishing is allowed.