New York, NY (BBN) – The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Tuesday urged regions using other industrial fishing techniques, such as trawl nets and gillnets, to implement safeguards in areas where seabirds are at greatest risk.
The threat of fishing on populations of already endangered seabirds – including albatrosses, of which 18 of the 22 species are listed as endangered – can be curbed by joint action, the FAO said in a press statement.
“With industry and government working as partners, the impacts of fishing can be greatly reduced,” said Francis Chopin, a senior fishery officer with FAO.
The practice of longline fishing, which involves boats trailing long lines bearing as many as 2,500 baited hooks, threatens seabirds that follow the vessel and dive for the bait, and in the absence of safeguards become hooked.
Statistics reported to FAO have indicated a significant decrease in collateral damage to seabirds worldwide in areas where safeguards to lessen the impact of longline fishing have been implemented.
The number of birds killed as a result of Chilean longline fishing dropped from 1,600 in 2002 to zero in 2006, while the number in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica was reported to have fallen from 6,500 in 1996 to zero last year, according to the statement.
The 10 countries currently implementing, or in advanced stages of preparing, strategies to lessen the impact of fishing on seabirds are South Africa, Australia, Chile, Canada, Brazil, Japan, Uruguay, Argentina, Namibia and the United States.
BBN/SI/SS/AD-24September08-12:14 AM (BST)