Fishers Exchange Seabird Knowledge
Southern Seabird Solutions
Conservation through Cooperation
9 December 2003
Fishers Exchange Seabird Knowledge
A Chilean fisher is heading home with firsthand experience of seabird-friendly fishing practices in New Zealand.
Chilean swordfish skipper Luis Uribe Varas has spent several weeks on board a New Zealand vessel which leads the world in seabird mitigation.
His trip is thanks to a four-way funding partnership between the Southern Seabird Solutions Trust, Sanford Ltd, the Ministry of Fisheries and the New England Aquarium Conservation Action Fund.
Sanford Ltd skipper John Bennett, who won the inaugural Golden Albatross award at last year’s International Fishers Forum in Hawaii, hosted Luis Uribe Varas on the Sanford long-line vessel San Aotea II.
Susan Waugh from the Ministry of Fisheries says Luis was able to observe mitigation techniques on the San Aotea II (such as the use of bird-scaring lines) and talk to the New Zealand crew about his experiences with seabird mitigation in Chile.
“We wanted to provide an opportunity for an influential Chilean fisherman to see a world leader in action, with the hope that this would spark an exchange of information and ideas,” says Dr Waugh.
Meanwhile, Greg Johansson from Sanford Ltd says: “Effective seabird mitigation requires not only physical changes to the vessel and its operation but a change of attitude and culture amongst the fishers. Immersing Luis (and others) into this culture and our suite of mitigation techniques will demonstrate that effective mitigation can be incorporated into efficient vessel operations with relative ease.”
The Southern Seabird Solutions Trust has identified South American fishers as an important group to work with as part of its efforts to reduce the rate of accidental seabird capture throughout the southern hemisphere. A number of seabirds breed in New Zealand but spend much of their adult lives off the coasts of Chile, Peru, Argentina, Falkland Islands, Brazil and Ecuador.
Zealand’s waters and offshore islands support more albatross
and petrel species than any other country. Albatrosses and
petrels forage for food far and wide across the oceans of
the world. Unfortunately they’ve discovered a great
labour-saving method – following fishing boats and feeding
on discarded offal and baits from hooks. This can be deadly,
as they may be caught on longline hooks and then dragged
under the water.
Measures to reduce the number of seabirds accidentally caught already exist and more are being developed. Measures include the use of bird-scaring or tori lines, underwater bait-setting devices, blue-dyed baits, night-setting, weights attached to the lines, and sound and lights to scare away the birds.
The Southern Seabird Solutions Trust is an alliance of government departments, fishing companies, environmental groups, eco-tourism operators, seabird researchers and fisheries trainers working cooperatively to reduce the number of fishing-related seabird deaths in the southern hemisphere.
Its current and proposed projects include:
- Fostering exchanges of crews and technologies between
fleets in different countries;
- Developing and testing new technologies such as underwater bait-setting capsules;
- Hosting national and regional fishers forums to enable fishers from different fleets to exchange ideas and information;
- Employing advisory officers in South Africa and South America to work alongside skippers and crew;
- Encouraging countries to join the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels;
- Gathering and reviewing information about where birds feed, and their overlap with fisheries.