During this year our team has been trying out experiments to test the efficiency of tori lines. For a few months we were working on the design of the line that we were adapting to suit the fishery in Uruguay. As we already knew through our experiences onboard, the tori lines in can sometimes become entangled with the fishing gear, which can lead to the captains and crew being reluctant to use them.
Despite this, our team has carried out work with the crews, in the ports and onboard to explain the use of the tori lines and the benefits they bring. They reduce the capture of seabirds and so leave more baited hooks that will potentially catch more fish.
As part of this work, I made a trip to Santos in Brazil to share experiences with the Brazilian ATF team, where I found Leo, Fabiano and Caio. It was a great trip and I learnt about the Brazilian technique to build tori lines that they use in ports all through Brazil. It was interesting to see how the fleet in Brazil has been using tori lines for a long time and how experienced the fishing crews are to the procedures.
Returning to Uruguay, we made a few adjustments to the tori line, using my experiences from Brazil, before starting our experimental work at sea. We checked it out over the first few days and made some subtle modifications to get it just right.
Having decided that we had reached a highly effective model, we started the experimental trials, using the line in collaboration with other observers from the Uruguayan Tuna Fleet National Observer Programme (Programa Nacional del Observadores de la Flota Atunera Uruguaya). We built a set of lines for all the vessels and in August began collecting the first sets of data. Meanwhile Martin was at sea on another fishing vessel carrying out the same experiment so that we would get double the information.
We are essentially looking at the difference between using a tori line and not using one. So far, the only seabird bycatch we have seen has been when not using a tori line. Although it is early days, this is a good indication of the results to come that will be used in direct action for the conservation of seabirds in Uruguay.
While we are carrying out these experiments the observers from the National Programme have also been using the tori lines at sea on the fishing vessels and have been reporting very positive results.
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