Namibia reduced seabird by-catch by 98%

The mandatory use of bird-scaring lines on fishing vessels in Namibia contributed to a 98% decrease in seabird by-catches.

A decrease in seabird by-catches has been revealed in the study by scientific journal Elsevier Biological Conservation, which was released in mid-December. The data was analysed obtained from BirdLife International’s Albatross Task Force and the Namibian Fisheries Observer Agency and compared the changes in seabird mortality before and after the introduction of these measures.

Seabirds, and especially albatrosses, are known to migrate from the southern oceans to Namibian waters where their foraging grounds overlap with Namibia’s fishing grounds and sometimes get killed due to interactions with fishing gear.

Prior to the use of the bird-scaring lines it was estimated that around 30,000 seabirds a year ended up dead as by-catch during routine fishing operations. The new lines are made of colourful streamers attached to the back of fishing vessels and act as ‘scarecrows’.

The study revealed that catches in the long line fleets went from 468 birds/1,000 hooks before regulations to four birds/1,000 following their introduction, making it a 98,4% reduction.

“Our study demonstrates that significant reductions in seabird by-catches can be achieved over a short period when best practice by-catch mitigation is implemented in a fishery,” the authors of the study stated.

To read the original study, click here.

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