• International recognition for ATF star Bronwyn Maree

    In the Albatross Task Force we are extremely proud of the dedicated individuals who perform a very challenging role for seabird conservation - working with the fishing industry, government and observer agencies both on-shore and at-sea to demonstrate, introduce and implement mitigation measures to keep albatross off the hook. It gives us great pleasure to announce that one of the stars of the ATF has received international…

    • 11 Jan 2014
  • The great Baobab tree has fallen

    Today I just want to pay tribute to my lifelong hero and role model Tata Nelson Mandela. His death really struck a chord in my heart that was never struck before. I guess it is true what they say when they say ‘you never know what you have until it is gone’. His death has sturred up emotions in me I never knew I had, it moved me in ways I have never been moved. In all honesty I just couldn’t hold back the litres of tears…

    • 13 Dec 2013
  • The complexity of working with small-scale fisheries

    Today's blog is from Luis Cabezas, ATF team leader in Chile who explains some of the challenges faced this year with the small-scale fishing fleet in Chile.

    Amongst the challenges ATF Chile faced in 2013 was developing a preliminary understanding of how the artisanal or small scale fleet interacts with seabirds, particularly the net fisheries. In Chile, the small-scale fleet is dominated by purse-seine vessels that…

    • 13 Dec 2013
  • The threat of rats and mice to the seabirds of our oceans

    Having spent close to three months on Nightingale and then Tristan da Cunha Islands last year I was struck by the incredible seabird diversity on the uninhabited and much smaller island of Nightingale. As many as 13 different seabird species breed on the 3 square kilometre volcanic island with a highest point of 400 m above sea level.

    Not too far away is the massive island of Tristan at over 200 square kilometres in…

    • 4 Dec 2013
  • Lights, camera, action!

    “Lights, camera, action” - that has been the highlight of my month as I was interviewed about the work of the Albatross Task Force and BirdLife in South Africa. I found out that being on television is no easy business. First you have to deal with the intensely bright lights, as bright as the midday summer Limpopo sun. Then you have this group of people who are intensely focused on you all the time and if you are self…

    • 4 Dec 2013
  • Learning to co-exist

    The earth works as a system, any conservation effort from one environmental sector successfully aids in the preservation of another natural resource. Unfortunately, the same applies with regards to overexploitation.

    I have been given the opportunity to work with the ATF in South Africa as part of a government intership grant and the above point was highlighted at a recent WWF-SA Groen Sebenza Interns Workshop Programme…

    • 3 Dec 2013
  • A wonderful blue world

    This post was written by Astrid Jimenez for ProDelphinus.

    I spent the day in a boliche boat, or purse siener surrounded by what I consider a real life experience, the things that cannot be seen or heard, but that one has to live to fully understand them. Today, around me, the ocean seems to swallow part of a continent and as part of this landscape, a group of fishermen sail upstream in search of what will be their catch…

    • 2 Dec 2013
  • People, the ocean and a hard life in artisanal fisheries

    In nearly eight years the Albatross Task Force has published around 288 blogs in this community. These diaries have reflected part of the effort of our team from eight countries where the ATF is working for the conservation of our seabirds. These records, apart from letters and images are also leaving a trail of our experiences and feelings.

    Amongst these experiences at-sea the ATF are breaking down barriers of language…

    • 2 Dec 2013
  • At-sea with the purse seine fleet in Peru

    This blog was written by Sergio Pingo Paiva for ProDelphinus.

    Going to sea on the north coast of Peru is always very exciting as with each trip comes many surprises. These waters are rich in biodiversity due to the influence of cold currents from the south and tropical currents from the north.

    The purse seine boats I have been working on usually leave port at night, but a sense of excitement keeps the tiredness at bay…

    • 23 Oct 2013
  • Office chaos as we prepare for the Save Our Seabirds Festival for 2013

    As part of South Africa’s National Marine week BirdLife South Africa’s Seabird Division (of which I am a part) organises the initiative known as the Save our Seabirds (SOS) Festival. This annual festival aims to educate people about the threats that seabirds face. The focus of the festival is however not only on seabirds but also to highlight and address relevant issues that affect the entire marine environment.…

    • 9 Oct 2013
  • When bad weather comes, so do the birds…

    For many years leaving port on a Friday was seen as bad luck. Apparently not so on the Isabella Marine as this South African hake trawler leaves Cape Town harbour on a weekly basis, every Friday. This also appears to be regardless of the weather expected, which along the coast of Cape Town can result in a bit of a roller coaster ride on board. So we set out, the crew hoping for good fishing and me, well I was just hoping…

    • 2 Oct 2013
  • Encouraging seabird conservation at school!

    A year ago I had one of the biggest surprises together with my daughter Gabriela. It was through this simple conversation that I really understood the ability that children have to absorb information, soaking up all the things that happen around them.

    Gabriela has been regularly exposed to the terms and images related to the albatross, marine fisheries and the topic of seabird bycatch. In her own way she has developed…

    • 11 Sep 2013
  • A tearful farewell from South Africa

    As my fingers start typing, my hands trembled, tears fell down my face, my brains went blank, then it finally hits me that it was time, time to accept that I am moving on. Although, it saddens my heart to leave the ATF, I am however confident that I came to the formidable ATF team and I made an important contribution to seabird bycatch research. Today I stand tall and proud to say thank you to all the ATF teams and the…

    • 3 Sep 2013
  • Preparing Hook Pod trials in Brazil

    The ATF in Brazil, in collaboration with the local host organisation Projeto Albatroz, has been conducting Hook Pod experimental trials in the pelagic longline fishery.

    The Hook Pod is an innovative mitigation measure that protects the barb of the hook during setting operations. Once the hook has sank down to a depth of 10 m, beyond the reach of albatross, a pressure sensitive mechanism is triggered, opening the pod…

    • 9 Aug 2013
  • Wandering Albatross- Giant wanderers of the Southern Ocean

    This iconic species is the largest of the great albatrosses, one of the largest bird species in the world, and even one of the best studied. During the winter months these magnificent birds venture close enough to the South African coastline to be seen on pelagic trips or from trawlers fishing for deep sea hake.

    Due to the bad weather with three cold fronts coming through in the same week my last trip again took me up…

    • 6 Aug 2013
  • Bird Mitigation Plans: Assisting the South African trawl fleet to assess seabird bycatch risks

    An exciting and successful project has been underway in the South African deep-sea trawl fishery since 2011...it is known as the Bird Mitigation Plans (BMPs) project, which is based on a similar concept from New Zealand. Up until recently it has been run through the Responsible Fisheries Alliance and a service provider but BirdLife South Africa’s Albatross Task Force has taken responsibility of the project as it moves…

    • 30 Jul 2013
  • Albatross Task Force: Viewing the world through a different lens

    In the Albatross Task Force we have the opportunity to see the world through a different lens. We go to sea on commercial fishing vessels and observe how the marine ecosystem is impacted by industrial fisheries. We can spend anywhere from a few days to over two months at-sea on these floating fish factories, working toward improving the conservation status of seabirds.

    It is truly rewarding to witness how boats, birds…

    • 26 Jul 2013
  • Good fishing and Cape Gannets everywhere… Oh and the weather was fantastic too!

    It was mid-June, meaning the middle of winter and a mere week before the shortest day of the year. At this time of year the waters just off the Western Cape coast are brimming with seabirds and trawlers are followed by thousands of hungry birds squabbling over discards from the boats. The usual culprits including Subantarctic Skuas hitching a ride on the boat, as well as the beautiful ‘mollies’ are present in good numbers…

    • 24 Jul 2013
  • One seabird too many: the smaller ones also count

    I recently conducted a harbour visit at one of Cape Town’s most elegant and popular tourist attraction spots, Hout Bay harbour. Situated in the south-west of Cape Town and bordered by the amazing Table Mountain on the east, Hout Bay harbour has become very popular as a seaside resort to both local and international tourists.

    Harbour visits are integral to the objectives of Albatross Task Force (ATF) and this one…

    • 24 Jul 2013
  • Inspired to ensure albatross continue to roam our oceans

    Before joining the ATF I was fortunate enough to visit the South Atlantic Ocean islands of Tristan da Cunha and Nightingale. The three month trip was one I will never forget.

    Below: The view of Nightingale Island from the ocean

    On Nightingale Island I spent 11 weeks doing research on the endangered single island endemic Wilkins’ Bunting. I was greeted by the sight of breeding Sooty and Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatrosses…

    • 11 Jul 2013
  • Community engagement with small-scale fleets in Ecuador

    The Albatross Task Force is working in Ecuador to investigate the causes of seabird bycatch in marine fisheries and develop solutions to mitigate this impact. Unlike many of the fisheries where the ATF is active, fishing techniques in Ecuador are often considered 'artisanal' or small-scale. This means that the fishing operation is manual, fishing gear is simple and time at-sea is relatively short compared to mechanised…

    • 11 Jul 2013
  • Experiencing Regional Fisheries Management Organisations first hand

    This year has been a major learning and experience gaining year for me as the leader of the South African ATF team. I have been given many opportunities to get involved in the application and international relevance of the work the ATF conducts.

    Some of the fisheries that we work in target fish stocks that are highly migratory and traverse large distances across our oceans. Most well known of these are the various tuna…

    • 10 Jul 2013
  • Longline observations in Peru

    This blog was written for ProDelphinus in Peru by Elizabeth Campbell.

    I wake up at midnight. Usually, I am going to bed at this time. But today, I have plans for the first hours of the day. My backpack is ready, packed with snacks and warm clothes. As I turn off the lights of my room I double check to see if I am forgetting something, then leave to meet with my captain. 

    In Peru, if you want to find a fisherman at port…

    • 5 Jul 2013
  • Onboard a hake longline boat

    The main objectives of the Albatross Task Force (ATF) is to reduce seabird bycatch, and ultimately to improve the conservation status of vulnerable species. This often involves working at-sea with different fisheries in South Africa such as hake longline, pelagic longline and deep-water trawl fisheries.

    Earlier this month, I got on board a hake longline vessel in Saldanha Bay, north of the city of Cape Town. I have been…

    • 28 Jun 2013
  • Somewhere in the south Indian ocean...

    By satellite phone I contact Oli Yates, ATF Coordinator to report on progress. I am somewhere in the south Indian Ocean having joined a reefer ship in Singapore. So far I've been at-sea for just over a week. My destination is a longline vessel fishing for Blue fin tuna in the Indian ocean. The task in hand is to perform experimental trials to investigate how the addition of weight to branch lines affects target fish catch…

    • 27 Jun 2013