The world’s long-line fishing industry has been killing albatrosses and other seabirds for many years. Although the Commission that controls this fishing knows and understands this, and they have the knowledge and means to reduce the toll on dwindling seabird populations, they are still doing it today.
Birdlife International says this indiscriminate killing is a continuation of the bad news for the world’s albatross species. The organization says “A three-year seabird risk assessment found tuna and swordfish longline fishing has significant impacts on Atlantic seabird populations, but the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) failed to act at a recent meeting in Recife, Brazil.”
“Albatrosses and petrel populations in the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea are undergoing some of the most severe decreases anywhere in the world.”
Dr Cleo Small, Senior Policy Officer for BirdLife Global Seabird Programme
The 43-year old International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas organization has membership in more than 40 fishing nations. Established in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1966, ICCAT recently held the annual meeting of the commission in Recife, Brazil. ICCAT controls longline fishing in the Atlantic Ocean, an operation on a massive scale.
A recommendation that fishers use a few simple, effective, low-cost measures to reduce the rate that seabirds are caught and drowned, was not endorsed by the Commission.
Hundreds of millions of longline hooks are set in the Atlantic each year and scientists and conservationists have been concerned about this for decades.
There are 20 species of albatross, and 18 are threatened with extinction, with longline fishing known to be the leading cause for many many of them.
BirdLife International, a global Partnership of conservation organisations that strives to conserve birds and sustainable use of natural resources has a Save the Albatross Campaign and an Albatross Task Force. Read more at the Birdlife website.
According to the BirdLife website, the Albatross Task Force began operationally in 2006 and while it has already seen success in some places around the world, more needs to be done in some areas.
The following success stories come from the Birdlife Website:
For every 100 albatrosses being killed in fisheries in South African waters in 2006, 85 are now being saved thanks to the efforts of the Albatross Task Force working with the government and the fishing industry.
In the south of Chile, the incidental capture of seabirds was reduced from over 1,500 birds in one year to zero through the adoption of modified fishing gear.
In Argentina the use of mitigation in the trawl fishery has shown that it is possible to reduce seabird mortality to close to zero.
In Brazil the voluntary adoption of simple bird-scaring lines has helped reduce incidental capture of seabirds by 56%.