Saving seabirds from longlines: a campaign of Birdlife International
Atlantic seabirds , Volume 1 - Issue 4 p. 189- 191
In every ocean of the world, longline fishing vessels set and haul their lines, bringing aboard halibut, tuna, swordfish and toothfish – and seabirds. Longlining has been commonly regarded as an ‘environmentally friendly’ fishing technique. Yet, it now has the attention of international NGOs such as Greenpeace International, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). Reports in the early 1990s emanating from Australia of tens of thousands of albatrosses being killed in the Southern Ocean by tuna longliners first led to this attention. A resolution Incidental Mortality of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries adopted by IUCN at its First World Conservation Congress in Montreal, Canada in October 1996 led BirdLife International to inaugurate its Seabird Conservation Programme in 1997, with a global review of seabird mortality caused by longline fisheries as its first major project. Seabirds are being killed in large numbers in the North Atlantic, northeastern Pacific, South Atlantic and Southern Oceans. Only in the warm seas of the tropics, where seabirds are generally few in number, are reports of mortality few or lacking. In the Pacific Ocean the species of greatest conservation concern is the Short-tailed Albatross Phoebastria albatrus, an IUCN Endangered species because of its very small population, breeding on only one Japanese island. U.S. regulations allow for fishery closure if four birds are hooked within two years by the groundfish and Pacific Halibut fisheries in the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea. Numbers of Laysan P. immutabilis and Black-footed Albatrosses P. nigripes are killed in these fisheries, as well as by the pelagic swordfish and tuna longline fisheries operating out of Hawaii. In the North Atlantic, the species most affected is the Northern Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis. However, because of its large and expanding population, it does not seem to be at risk.
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