16 Dec 2015

Speaking your language to save albatrosses

Good for birds, good for fishermen.
Good for birds, good for fishermen.
By Berry Mulligan

An estimated 100,000 albatrosses are killed in longline and trawl fisheries around the world each year. Longline fishing is one of the biggest threats to albatross survival worldwide and the BirdLife Marine Programme’s has worked tirelessly for over 10 years to reduce seabird bycatch in high seas fisheries and national waters, with some great successes for example in Namibia and South Africa.

We are building on this positive work. All five tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organisations - the bodies in charge of managing high seas tuna fisheries – have now put seabird conservation measures in place, requiring longline vessels to deploy bycatch mitigation on board. The mitigation techniques include use of bird-scaring lines to keep seabirds away from baited hooks, weighting to help hooks sink quickly out of reach of foraging seabirds and setting hooks at night when albatrosses are less active.

Watch on YouTube: Saving Albatrosses – How to Reduce Seabird Bycatch © BirdLife International

The challenge now is to ensure that all longline fleets are aware of and implement these inexpensive and required measures, particularly those countries and fleets with large numbers of tuna longline vessels fishing in the south of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans where many albatross species live.

With this in mind we have developed this instructional video (first in Taiwanese then more languages) for outreach with longline vessels and crews. Chinese Taiwan has over 300 large-scale and 1000 small-scale tuna longline vessels, making it one of the world leaders in longline fishing.

Educational materials in appropriate languages are crucial to connect with fleets and communicate effectively with skippers to demonstrate the simple methods that are available to reduce unnecessary seabird deaths, as explained by Mayumi Sato, BirdLife Marine Programme Asia Coordinator:

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"So far we have had a very positive engagement with the Taiwanese Fisheries Agency and industry groups on seabird bycatch. Videos such as this help us and our partners explain both the threats and solutions directly to fishers and fisheries officials. We hope that we can continue to expand our work with Taiwanese fleets to increase the uptake of seabird mitigation measures and work collaboratively to save albatrosses."

You can also watch the video in Korean, English, Mainland Chinese and Spanish and it is coming soon in additional languages. It is geared towards fishermen, but includes some great footage of albatrosses and the simple solutions that can save them.

Thanks to the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation for funding the development of this instructional film and to the David & Lucile Packard Foundation for their ongoing support to our work with high seas fishing fleets.