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 national Fisheries Development Institute (IFOP) in Chile invited the ATF to test the effectiveness of bird-scaring lines (BSLs) on-board the vessel Abate Molina during demersal trawling operations. Bird scaring lines, deployed from the stern of the vessel, keep seabirds at a safe distance from potentially lethal trawl cables using brightly-coloured streamers. This simple mitigation measure has already been shown to reduce the incidental capture of albatrosses and petrels in trawl fleets by over 90% and is used in fisheries all over the world.

The use of BSLs on demersal trawlers is an area of expertise of the ATF in Argentina, having a long history of demonstrating the effectiveness of this mitigation measure to industry and government. Their diligent work finally paid off in May 2018, with fisheries regulations now requiring the use of bird scaring lines on the industrial trawl fleet in Argentina (following a 12-month voluntary uptake period) - which could save up to 10,000 albatross every year!

With this great achievement in mind, the opportunity to work on board IFOP's vessel Abate Molina to share their experiences with colleagues and fisheries observers in Chile came at the perfect time. Thanks to the support of IFOP and other funders, two ATF instructors from Argentina were able to join the team in Chile in July to help with the necessary preparations.

      

Abate Molina - the research vessel on which ATF teams from Chile and Argentina are working with the Fisheries Development Institute (IFOP) in Chile to test the effectiveness of bird-scaring lines. 

Moving forward, the two teams will be working closely together to test bird-scaring lines (BSLs) on-board Abate Molina during trawling operations, to provide advice on the use of this mitigation measure to the government of Chile. The teams will also be testing an anti-entanglement device (known as a Tamini Tabla or TT), developed by a member of ATF-Argentina to facilitate the use of bird-scaring lines at sea. In addition to contributing to IFOP's research on seabird bycatch mitigation measures, this work will enable the ATF to help build local capacity among the national observer agency in Chile in the use of mitigation measures and seabird bycatch monitoring. 

Members of the ATF present a Tamini Tabla to to the Fisheries Development Institute (IFOP) in Chile.  From left to right:  Luis Adasme & Claudio Bernal (IFOP researchers), Leo Tamini (Coordinator ATF-Argentina), Cristián G. Suazo (Coordinator ATF-Chile), Luis Parot (Chief Executive - IFOP), Sergio Lillo (Head of Department of Evaluation - IFOP) and Patricio Gálvez (Head of Department of Fisheries Research - IFOP). 

Our ATF instructor Nahuel Chavez is carrying out this work on-board Abate Molina as we speak, using his experiences from Argentina to evaluate the use of mitigation measures on trawlers operating along the Chilean coast. Stay tuned for more updates on his progress!

/Cristian Suazo (ATF-Chile) and Leo Tamini (ATF Argentina)

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