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 he contact we have with the fishing crew and captains on board the vessels.

There was considerable interest in the work of the Albatross Task Force, and the much sought after limited edition ATF Namibia T-shirts were handed out to a lucky selection of enthusiastic captains, who are actively adopting mitigation measures on their vessels. "The industry is very interested in our work at the moment, as fishery regulations are being introduced and we are very busy providing the technical support and guidance needed to make sure this process runs smoothly" reported Clemens. 

Below: Clemens Naomab, ATF Namibia sports a fine yellow ATF Namibia T-shirt

One of the important aspects of attending fishing stakeholder events is to ensure that all levels of industry, not just captains and crew, are aware of the vulnerable seabirds that inhabit the same waters as they are fishing in and the urgent action that is required to prevent many of these seabird species from suffering continued population declines. 

Namibian fisheries include a very large industrial trawl fleet, and a smaller longline fleet. Both these fisheries target hake, which is exported to Europe, predominantly for the Spanish market. The Benguela Current on the west coast of Africa is one of the world's Large Marine Ecosystems, characterised for the nutrient rich upwelling waters. The Benguela Current provides critical primary production that feeds the ocean food web, including important foraging grounds for albatross and petrels. 

BirdLife's Albatross Task Force is supporting the uptake of seabird bycatch mitigation measures in Namibia, where the trawl and longline fleet are voluntarily using these measures in the lead up to full implementation of new fishery regulations. 

Seabird bycatch mitigation measures for trawl fisheries are simple: a set of birds-caring lines are deployed behind the vessel to scare the foraging birds away from the trawl cables. Measures for the longline fishery include bird-scaring lines, which scare birds away from baited hooks, night setting and line waiting. The ATF has shown that together, these three measures can reduce seabird bycatch by over 95%.

Below: Seabirds devour offal discards from a demersal longline vessel in Namibia. Image by Clemens Naomab