Prince Charles Speaks Out on BirdLife's "Save The Albatross" Campaign
Prince Charles spoke out on Monday about the "dreadful" and devastating impact of long-line fishing, a practice which results in the death of more than 300,000 seabirds per year. Since 1997 BirdLife International has been monitoring the situation. 22 species of seabird are now globally threatened - including 17 albatross species. Prince Charles urged more governments to sign and ratify the international conservation agreement that BirdLife has been shaping. He also called upon better solutions for diminishing fish stocks and long-term investment in our fisheries, taking steps to rebuild some of the natural abundance and resilience.
Full lecture can be found here
BirdLife International's "Save the Albatross" Campaign
Click here for BirdLife International's Campaign Pages
Wandering Albatross © Tony Palliser
Seabirds are in trouble, with no fewer than 97 of the worlds 337 seabird species at risk of extinction. Numbers of the worlds largest flying bird the Wandering Albatross - have halved in the past 20-30 years.
The main problem that seabirds face is death caused by long-line fisheries. More than 100,000 albatrosses and petrels may be killed every year in the Southern Ocean by illegal long-line fisheries catching Patagonian toothfish . Such a level of deaths is unsustainable.
Yet solutions as simple as trailing coloured plastic streamers to scare off foraging seabirds could remove the danger posed by trailing hooks. Although many fishermen are sympathetic, the fishing industry as a whole is not. The Birdlife International team has been lobbying governments to implement national and international agreements necessary to save the worlds seabirds. Already there have been campaign successes. In June 1999, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation adopted an international plan for reducing the number of seabirds caught by long-line fisheries. Now there is an urgent need for fishing nations to produce and adopt their own national action plans.
In November 1999, the campaign helped in adding 7 species of petrels to the list of birds at risk from long-lining, under the Bonn Convention, which covers the conservation of migratory species. Persuading countries to adopt measures under international agreements is crucial, but there is also a huge, illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing industry, particularly for Patagonian toothfish. Persuading these pirate vessels to adopt measures is another challenge one where public pressure comes in. So when you next buy fish, ask whether it comes from an albatross-friendly fishing fleet.
Birdlife Internationals Save the Albatross campaign has four main targets:
To persuade the main long-lining nations to adopt national plans of actions, leading to fewer seabird deaths caused by long-line fishing.
To persuade relevant countries to sign a Southern Hemisphere Albatross and Petrel Agreement under the Bonn Convention.
To persuade regional fishing industries to adopt measures to reduce seabird deaths.
To urge the use of accreditation schemes to eliminate pirate fisheries in the Southern Ocean.
Things each of us can do to help the campaign
Try to avoid eating Patagonian toothfish and bluefin tuna unless you know its from an accredited source. You are most likely to come across these fish served in restaurants in the USA (particularly in the West Coast States) and Japan. Patagonian toothfish is sold under a variety of names, including Chilean or Antarctic sea bass, black hake or mero.
In Europe, write to your local MEP. In the US write to your Senator. Ask him/her about what their institutions are doing to ensure that vessels registered in their states use mitigation measures to reduce seabird by-catch when they are long-lining in territorial waters or in other regions of the world.
For more information on the Save the Albatross campaign visit http://www.uct.ac.za/depts/stats/adu/seabirds
For more information on this weekends British Birdwatching Fair, visit http://www.birdfair.org.uk
Northern Giant Petrels and Salvin's Albatrosses © Tony Palliser
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