Landmark move to protect albatrosses in the Western and Central Pacific20/12/2012 11:19:17 More protection for albatross
December 2012. The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) have agreed to measures that could result in significant reductions in the deaths of albatrosses, which accidently get snagged on longline fishing hooks and then drown.
Two seabird bycatch mitigation measures
The move brings the WCPFC, which is the world's largest tuna commission, in-line with the measures adopted in Atlantic in November 2011 and the Indian Ocean in April 2012.
300,000 seabirds killed in longline fisheries
Dr Cleo Small, from the RSPB and BirdLife International, said: "This move is great news for albatrosses worldwide, including some UK albatross species such as the wandering albatross, which fly right around the world in the non-breeding period and can be victims of bycatch from the longliners that fish in the South Pacific. Without such measures, these beautiful birds could be lost forever."
Although an understanding of the scale and nature of this threat has been known for a long time, the development of measures to reduce bycatch has been slow. The RSPB and BirdLife International's Global Seabird Programme have been particularly active in devising and testing technologies and fishing practices to reduce the problem and be part of the solution; the Albatross Task Force, founded by the organisations, works directly with fishermen and fishery managers in eight bycatch hotspot countries worldwide to reduce the number of seabirds being killed.
The news from the WCPFC follows the strong set of measures put in place last April when the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) agreed that fishing vessels must use two out of three measures to reduce bycatch when working in areas where albatrosses occur.
Karen Baird, from Forest and Bird, the RSPB's BirdLife partner in New Zealand, was at the negotiations. She said: "Global fisheries have a duty and responsibility to fish sustainably and to minimise their impact on non-target species, such as seabirds and sea turtles. This measure is a very welcome move towards this goal: if implemented this could reduce the number of albatrosses killed by 80%. Now that these measures have been adopted in the Atlantic, Indian and South Pacific oceans, we hope that the North Pacific and East Pacific will follow suit."
For more information about the RSPB's Save the Albatross campaign visit http://www.rspb.org.uk/albatross