• Surviving the high seas aboard a Japanese-South African joint-venture vessel

    I recently embarked on a Japanese joint-venture voyage from Cape Town. On-board were six Japanese, 16 Indonesians and a South African. This motley crew was to become my only human connection for the next two months! The South African crew member, fluent in both Indonesian and Japanese, was to become my language bridge in this lingo pandemonium. His high tempo, effervescent Wikipedia attitude kept me entertained and I…

    • 19 Nov 2018
  • Working to reduce seabird and turtle bycatch in Brazil

    Bycatch in longline fisheries is a major source of mortality for albatrosses and large petrel species, many of which are already endangered. It is estimated that over 300,000 seabirds are killed by longline fisheries globally every year, as the birds become caught on fishing hooks while they scavenge for the bait being set by the fishermen at the stern of vessel.

    Like thousands of others, this black-browed albatross…

    • 22 Oct 2018
  • Finding my Pacific sea legs

    Last week I returned from my trip on Abate Molina – a scientific research vessel owned by the Fisheries Development Institute (IFOP) in Chile. Although I have been working with the Albatross Task Force for over ten years, this was the first time I was on such a boat. In fact, being Argentinian, it was the first time I sailed through the waters of the South Pacific Ocean!

    I spent 20 days testing bird scaring lines…

    • 10 Sep 2018
  • A new wave of collaboration for ATF teams in South America

    This austral winter has brought positive change for the ATF teams working to reduce seabird bycatch in South America. In Argentina and Chile we have been working hard to put together a collaborative conservation effort to help save vulnerable seabirds in the Humboldt Current system - an unprecedented international cooperation in the history of the ATF!

    The idea of a transnational collaboration first came about when the…

    • 15 Aug 2018
  • Exciting times in Namibia!

    I am sitting with Titus Shaanika, one of our Albatross Task Force Instructors, at his desk in the Namibia Nature Foundation Regional Office, Walvis Bay. It is covered in seabird bycatch data entry forms, letters from government officials and an agenda packed with meetings with fishing company representatives. Outside the winter winds are howling - bringing sand and hot air from the East to this little dusty harbour town…

    • 6 Jul 2018
  • Starting a new chapter with the Albatross Task Force

    The last couple of months have involved a lot of change for me personally and for the ATF team as a whole. With new people coming on-board and regulations changing in the countries we work in, exciting times lie ahead and we want to share it all with...
    • 8 Jun 2018
  • The unshakeable resilience of Chilean fishermen

    Some time ago I wrote about the challenges for small scale fishers in Chile, who are represented by fragile working conditions and confront stormy waters in the ironically named Pacific Ocean.

    I have always tried to highlight the role of small scale fishers as providing an important source of nutrition and tourism for local economies, as well as holding a wealth of knowledge that is relevant for future marine conservation…

    • 28 Sep 2015
  • Proud to Be a Fisherman

    My last trip was aboard a vessel that prides itself on doing everything possible to reduce seabird bycatch ~ the FV Harvest Nandi. I was highly impressed with the attitudes and knowledge of the entire crew – from the skipper to the factory men, deckhands to engineers – they were all conscious about seabirds and the importance of preventing endangered species’ extinctions. I think this stems from direct and constant involvement…

    • 22 Jul 2015
  • Seabird and turtle bycatch in northern Chile

    Mummified remains in the Atacama Desert suggest the first Andean tribes ventured closer to the coast some 7,000 BC, attracted by the plentiful and accessible marine resources. Today, the most northerly city in Chile is still an important fishing port, with numerous purse seine and gillnet vessels active all year, as well as other coastal ventures that include seaweed and shell fish gathering, plus a growing marine tourism…

    • 19 May 2015
  • ATF promote sustainable fishing in Namibia

    Last week our very own Clemens Naomab of our Albatross Task Force team in Namibia attended the "Fishtival", an event aimed at providing all stakeholders in the fishing/seafood/marine products sector with a platform to display or market their products and services. Clemens, pictured below,  set up an Albatross Task Force stall to enable closer contact with fishing industry and local community, reaching beyond…

    • 9 Apr 2015
  • Albatrosses and attitudes

    One afternoon as my observations were coming to an end the first mate came to chat with me at the stern. He sees me sitting at the back of the boat days on end, staring at birds. “You’re job looks boring” he said, and I was quick to point out that not all birds were the same. I showed him the differences between a Black-browed albatross and a Yellow-nosed albatross and I could see his interest piquing. “I heard these…

    • 1 Apr 2015
  • Seabird bycatch in Chile: impacts and reduction strategies

    As part of the wider work conducted by ATF instructors in our home countries, I have recently led on an initiative to publish relevant information on seabird bycatch in Chilean fisheries. The resulting work describes Chile's globally important colonies of endangered and endemic seabird species, and globally vulnerable nonbreeding species that visit our waters. One of the major threats for seabirds in Chilean waters is…

    • 1 Mar 2015
  • I can move mountains and leap over oceans

    Today I am not going to brag about all the amazing and rare seabirds that I see (I see Wandering Albatross when I am at sea!) and all the whales, dolphins and sharks that I encountered on my journeys at sea. Today I want to share with you how conducting at-sea trials changed my perspective on life. I want to tell you about how changing the fate of seabirds has changed my fate.

    Below: A Wandering albatross, Bokamoso …

    • 11 Nov 2014
  • Namibia takes positive steps to reduce seabird mortality in hake fisheries

    Incidental bycatch in fisheries constitutes the major threat for many vulnerable populations of seabirds. Globally 300,000 seabirds are killed in longline and trawl fisheries where they are hooked and drown on baited hooks or are struck by trawl cables and dragged under water. Approximately 100,000 of these birds are albatross, the most threatened family of birds with 15 of 22 species at risk of extinction.

    The Albatross…

    • 1 Nov 2014
  • BirdLife South Africa’s Dr Ross Wanless wins Environmentalist of the Year award

    The prestigious SAB Environmentalist of the Year Award was made to Dr Ross Wanless, from BirdLife South Africa’s Seabird Conservation Programme, at a ceremony in Johannesburg yesterday. Dr Wanless has overseen a number of impressive conservation achievements over the past six years at BirdLife South Africa, building on a career of seabird science and conservation work that started in 1997. Dr Wanless was unable to receive…

    • 24 Oct 2014
  • New trials to save albatross begin in the Argentina trawl fishery

    The status of the world’s seabirds has deteriorated rapidly over recent decades and several species and many populations are now threatened with extinction. Last information from BirdLife International’s data and assessment for the IUCN Red List reveals that seabirds are now more threatened than any other group of birds. Of the 346 seabird species, 97 (28%) are globally threatened and nearly half of all seabird species…

    • 11 Sep 2014
  • Testing seabird bycatch mitigation: getting the facts right

    Of the 300,000 seabirds killed in longline and trawl fisheries each year, around 100,000 are albatross. This level of mortality is clearly not sustainable for these inspirational, but sadly imperilled seabirds, with 15 of the 22 species of albatross threatened with extinction.  

    Birds are killed when they scavenge baited hooks, are dragged underwater and drown in longline fisheries; or while feeding on factory discards…

    • 3 Sep 2014
  • Back on board with the demersal longline fleet in South Africa

    I recently headed down to Hout Bay, South Africa to join a demersal (bottom) longline fishing vessel in a fishery we have recently begun working with again to improve and update mitigation measures.

    Upon arrival to the harbour I found that the boat that I was supposed to join had already left port and left me behind. This was not through any particular bad intentions, just an unfortunate miscommunication between the…

    • 30 Aug 2014
  • Welcome to Honolulu!

    Crystal clear waters, crisp white sand, and cool shady palm trees are not the first thing that springs to mind when on a deep-sea fishing trawler. But we were in Honolulu, the proverbial paradise we see on TV, “where everything is hunky dory”. That is how my skipper, Manfred, described the fishing grounds we were trawling at. A fishing paradise in the Atlantic, “we always catch nice fish here, big hake. They are beautiful…

    • 15 Aug 2014
  • Maintaining perfect mitigation in South Africa

    On my most recent trip aboard a deep-sea trawler, the weather wasn’t as compassionate as the last one! One night my sleeping bag actually flew off me as we rocked and rolled on the sea like a cork in a bucket! You come up with creative and very unusual sleeping positions to steady yourself as the boat rocks about at night. Your body gets used to this, and sometimes it’s almost fun, like a roller-coaster ride.…

    • 13 Aug 2014
  • Pink-footed sheawater bycatch in Peru’s small-scale gillnet fishery

    Since 2013 Birdlife partners in Ecuador, Peru and Chile have been monitoring small-scale gillnet fleets for evidence of interactions (termed “bycatch”) with pink-footed shearwaters and other seabird species. In Peru there are tens of thousands of small-scale fishermen operating from over 10,000 vessels along the coast. The most common fishing gear they use is gillnets, often set drifting overnight at the ocean surface…

    • 29 Jul 2014
  • Demonstrating seabird bycatch mitigation measures in Namibia

    I recently conducted more on board demonstrations on how to use seabird bycatch mitigation measures in longline and trawl fisheries in Namibia. We are working in partnership with the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources and the fishing Industry to create awareness of the available solutions through training workshops, at sea demonstrations and fishery monitoring. By doing so, the introduction of conservation measures…

    • 25 Jul 2014
  • Environmental awareness in Chilean coastal towns

    A long the coast of Chile there are often locally organised fairs intended to display the projects that are conducted in the region. These are popular with local university students and school children and represent a great opportunity to explain how the work of the Albatross Task Force is working with the fishing industry to prevent the incidental bycatch of threatened seabirds.

    One of the main objectives of the Task…

    • 25 Jul 2014
  • Working as an intern with BirdLife South Africa

    I have been completing an internship with BirdLife South Africa, as part of the Groen Sebenza internship programme. It has given me an opportunity to learn more about my career options in conservation. I have learnt of the collaboration between different conservation organisations and met interesting people who play a vital role in conservation.

    Personally I found BirdLife South Africa’s Albatross Task Force team to…

    • 25 Jul 2014
  • Reducing seabird mortality in Namibia

    In Namibia we are working to reduce seabird mortality in the longline and trawl fisheries. Together these two fisheries are responsible for the accidental mortality of around 30,000 seabirds per year, the majority of which are white-chinned petrels and yellow-nosed albatross. These alarming figures represent one of the most lethal fisheries in the world in terms of seabird bycatch. Despite this high level of mortality,…

    • 21 Jul 2014