• 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
  • Social dynamics at sea

    While we are at sea it is important for us understand more than just the interaction between seabirds and vessels.

    To reach out and connect with the captains and crew we must learn to understand the life of these people with whom we share our time, and ultimately the people who will be responsible for the adoption of new practices in their daily routine that will help save the albatross. Some of the people we meet are…

    • 18 Jul 2014
  • Amazing new invention from UK business ready to save the Albatross

    Globally, an albatross dies on a fishing hook every 5 minutes. Hookpod is a clever new invention that catches fish, not birds. Designed by Devon-based brothers Ben and Pete Kibel and trialled extensively by the RSPB Albatross Task Force on behalf of BirdLife International, it’s small in size, big in innovation and has huge implications for saving the albatross from extinction.

    What’s the problem?

    By far…

    • 17 Jul 2014
  • Public speaking: a big part of working with the ATF

    The first thing to realize if you plan on enjoying life in the ATF, is that you will have to speak in public and it will happen a lot! Despite being shy sometimes, these opportunities are going to keep coming up and you have to learn to enjoy them.

    You have to understand that it’s only going to get better if you face up to it and know that the earlier you start doing it the better, because the longer you wait the more…

    • 12 Jul 2014
  • A life of adventure

    The life of an ATF instructor is filled with adventure. Our job is to collect seabird abundance and interaction data at sea. It involves working with fishermen to find and implement solutions to seabird bycatch. It comes with a lot of amazing opportunities; we wake up at sea to the wonderful sound of birds, surrounded by the beautiful blue waters of the ocean and a peaceful atmosphere which comes with the sea-breeze.

    • 12 Jul 2014
  • Greening the Future award for ATF South Africa

    The South African newspaper, the Mail & Guardian holds a prestigious, annual ‘Greening the Future’ awards ceremony in Johannesburg. This year the South African Albatross Task Force team was awarded top honours for our work introducing an innovative solution that has reduced albatross deaths in the local trawl fishery by more than 90%.

    Our work in South Africa’s largest, most economically valuable fishery…

    • 1 Jul 2014
  • Future for nature award: helping save the albatross

    In April 2014, three young conservationists all making a difference in their own way, headed to the Netherlands to receive the Future for Nature Award 2014. I was one of the three people awarded for my work with the Albatross Task Force, preventing unnecessary deaths of seabirds during fishing operations. I was selected from a total of 126 applications from 58 countries to be one of the lucky recipients of this prestigious…

    • 11 Jun 2014
  • Understanding seabird bycatch in small scale fisheries

    The causes of seabird bycatch in longline and trawl fisheries are relatively well known, and solutions exist that reduce the mortality in these fisheries. In small scale fisheries, such as purse seine and gillnet fleets, we are still identifying the way in which seabirds interact with fishing gear. This process will lead to a better understanding of where and how mortality occurs. Only once we have identified these factors…

    • 6 Jun 2014
  • Albatross deaths down by 99% in local trawl fishery

    Conservation success stories are hard to find. Rarely are they the result of simple, elegant solutions that are truly win-win. Now BirdLife South Africa have demonstrated just such a good-news outcome. Accidental seabird deaths during fishing is the single greatest threat facing many seabird populations. Albatrosses, in particular, are under extreme pressure with 15 of the world’s 22 albatross species threatened with…

    • 12 May 2014
  • Workshop on gillnet and purse seine fisheries

    Each year an estimated 400,000 seabirds are killed in gillnet fisheries, while no estimates exist yet for purse seine fleets. Little attention has been given to purse seine fisheries as it was thought they had little impact on seabirds. Alarming new evidence is starting to change that perspective.

    The Albatross Task Force has been monitoring both of these fisheries in three countries, Chile, Peru and Ecuador as part…

    • 8 May 2014