What do we know about seabird bycatch in each continent, region or nation? How can we stop these unnecessary deaths of seabirds? These were the two key questions that were discussed at the BirdLife World Congress, in Canada, in a dedicated workshop that listed Birdlife’s priorities and objectives for the next years.
To date, the BirdLife Global Seabird Programme has successfully delivered tangible reductions in seabird bycatch in some international waters. This achievement has been possible thanks to the ‘grass root’ work effectuated by the Albatross Task Force (ATF) working together with fishermen in South America and Southern Africa, as well as to our active advocacy work in the world’s five ‘high sea’ tuna management bodies or Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs). During this workshop, the Global Seabird Programme’s successes were showcased, future challenges were highlighted and two emerging work areas – the expansion of the ATF into small-scale artisanal fisheries and developed countries, as well as gillnet fisheries – were addressed.
“The Albatross Task Force is a great example of partnership collaboration”, said Ben Sullivan, BirdLife’s Global Seabird Programme Coordinator. “From data gathering and pure scientific research to daily work at sea with fishermen and policy makers, we have been able to identify cost-effective measures that have proved to be extremely efficient reducing seabird bycatch rates in many regions”.
Presentations on the successes and challenges of the ATF set the scene for identifying new Birdlife Partners that can engage in seabird bycatch reduction work across the globe. This was linked to BirdLife’s new Global Strategy, so that each region can define their clear objectives and actions. In order to get even more detail, it was agreed to ask every country to list their top priorities, developing a map of BirdLife Partnership’s interest and capacity to engage with the ATF.
“Unfortunately, there are many regions, such as Europe, where we still need urgent action”, stated Iván Ramírez, Birdlife’s European Marine Coordinator. “We now have the data confirming that thousands of seabirds are being killed every year, but it is proving extremely difficult to have explicit support from the EU and the Member States to have real action to mitigate seabird bycatch on the ground. We cannot wait anymore and we hope that this workshop helps the Birdlife Partnership to bring the ATF into Europe very soon”.