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The Problem:

Albatross are among the most graceful, enduring birds in the world. They can live to more than 60 years old in the most violent environment in the world, flying as much as 13,000 km on a single feeding flight. Yet every year, tens of thousands of albatross and petrels get killed by longline fishing. These wasteful deaths are totally unnecessary, yet 16 species of albatross are now threatened with extinction. There are solutions! Well-managed fisheries have almost eliminated the unnecessary slaughter of albatross. But most fisheries remain poorly managed, plagued by illegal, unregulated and undocumented fishing. We invite you to join a wonderful opportunity to help save the albatross!

How are the albatross dying?

Longline fishing is the culpret, luring the albatross with an easy, but deadly catch. Longlines several miles long and with thousands of baited hooks are reeled out and Wandering Albatross, along with many other seabirds dive for the bait, only to get hooked themselves. As the line pays out, the weight drags the birds under, drowning them. The next day, along with the fish, bird corpses are hauled aboard, and the bird corpses are summarily thrown back.

These deaths are unnecessary! Technological solutions exist to make fishing less harmful, and careful management of the fishing effort could brighten the futures of endangered seabirds. But many of the deadly longliners fish illegally, ignoring not only mechanisims for reducing seabird bycatch, but fishing species such as the Patagonian Toothfish (aka Chilean Seabass) to the brink of extinction.

The Solutions:

Albatross and petrels will only be safe when illegal and unregulated fishing is no longer profitable. Help make this possible!


Support our Albatross Campaign Fundraiser and get a beautiful piece of artwork by Edward Rooks out of your donation.

Write a Letter.
Ask your government to invest in enforcement of current laws against illegal and unregulated fishing, to participate in implementation of the Intarnational Plan of Action (IPOA) to reduce seabird bycatch, and to develop an IPOA to control illegal fishing. Sample Letter for US residents.

Sign a petition to strengthen the laws that fight illegal and undocumented longline fishing

Insist that the fish you eat is sustainably harvested without seabird bycatch. An excellent resource for choosing environmentally sound seafood is available from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
The Marine Stewardship Council is currently the largest and most accepted group that certifies fisheries as being sustainably harvested without seabird bycatch. Two sources for sustainably harvested seafood are: EcoFish and Pelican Packers.
The island of South Georgia has reduced the bycatch of albatross and petrels from 3255 in 1997 to 30 in 2001. This example needs to be followed worldwide, but will only happen if illegal fishing becomes unprofitable. These fish are especially important to be careful with:

  • Patagonian Toothfish (aka Chlean Sea Bass)
  • Shark
  • Swordfish and marlin
  • Bluefin Tuna

Support international seabird conservation. BirdLife International's Save the Albatross campaign seeks to persuade the main long-lining nations to adopt national plans of actions, leading to fewer seabird deaths caused by long-line fishing and to persuade relevant countries to sign a Southern Hemisphere Albatross and Petrel Agreement under the Bonn Convention. They are also making efforts to persuade regional fishing industries to adopt measures to reduce seabird deaths and urging the use of accreditation schemes to eliminate pirate fisheries in the Southern Ocean.

More Information:

Seabird bycatch is entirely avoidable! These simple steps can be taken to save the birds and yet allow longliners to continue:

  • further weighting of lines to increase sink rates,
  • reducing the exposure of baited hooks to seabirds,
  • thawing baits to overcome buoyancy problems,
  • increasing sink rates by use of line-setting machines or below-the-water chutes,
  • deploying bird scaring devices,
  • modifying hooks,
  • setting lines at night,
  • reducing vessel attractiveness to seabirds,
  • area and seasonal closures, and
  • releasing live birds

The problem is, these steps are not implemented, due in large part to the huge amount of illegal longline fishing. Much of the longline fishing is in waters covered by the Commission for Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), meaning that a controlling authority exists and enforcement is possible if the will exists among signatory nations. Furthermore, an International Plan of Action for reducing the incidental catch of seabirds in longline fisheries was formally adopted by the Food & Agriculture Organisationís (FAO) fisheries committee, at Rome in February. The proposals were backed by BirdLife International, which had observer status at the meeting. Although the adopted plan is voluntary, it will require signatory states to assess if they have a seabird bycatch problem, and if so to develop a national plan to tackle it by 2001, involving development of technologies to reduce seabird bycatch. The US is developing its US National Plan of Action to reduce bycatch, but has not acted yet.

More internet resources:

Don't let these magnificent birds go extinct!