Handling seabirds so they survive: postcard from WCPFC16

by Claire Heath | 17 December 2019 | News

Short-tailed albatross with chicks … one of many species of albatrosses that face extinction, partly from getting hooked on fishing lines when following fishing vessels

The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) has introduced updated advice on how to handle seabirds caught on longline hooks so that remain alive and can recover

According to World Wildlife Fund, every year between 13,000 and 19,000 seabirds, particularly albatrosses and petrels, die after being caught on longline hooks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean — even though a conservation and management measure already exists to protect them.

The new guidelines are simple so that they can be followed easily, and so are the materials needed to safely release seabirds: a towel or blanket, pliers, net, a box or bin, and gloves. Most of these are already likely to be on longline vessels.

Although the guidelines aren’t binding, they do mark a step up in WCPFC’s push for a sustainable tuna industry.