At the end of August, Chile introduced new regulations to reduce seabird bycatch in its trawl fleets. This is a vital and welcome step towards protecting albatross in the Pacific (such as the black-browed albatross from the Diego Ramirez archipelago in the picture below) and represents another milestone for the Albatross Task Force programme.

Photo Credit: Cristian G.Suazo

Much like the law introduced in Argentina last year, the new regulation in Chile makes it mandatory for trawl vessels to use bird-scaring lines. This includes both industrial and artisanal vessels from a number of important fleets, trawling for shrimp, hake and other species along the Chilean coast – a tremendously important foraging area for many endangered seabirds.  

“This is great news for the conservation of seabirds in Chile but also for all the people who fight every day to protect nature and make our country more sustainable”
– Patricio Ortiz, ATF instructor in Chile. 

 The ATF team in Chile has been a key driver in achieving the mandatory use of mitigation measures in trawl fisheries in Chile. For years, our dedicated team of instructors have worked with the Undersecretariat of Fisheries (SUBPESCA), researchers, fishers and government observers in Chile to test bird-scaring lines and demonstrate their effectiveness at reducing seabird bycatch in trawl fleets. A key turning point in this process was the collaborative work that took place between the Chilean Institute of Fisheries Development (IFOP) and ATF teams from Chile and Argentina in 2018 (click here to read more about this transnational collaboration).  

To the left: Volunteers from CODEFF (BirdLife partner in Chile) help construct bird-scaring lines for trawl vessels. 

The introduction of regulations making the use of mitigation measures mandatory across all trawl fleets in Chile marks an important step in the right direction for the protection of seabirds in the Pacific. This will naturally benefit all those species that forage in the seas around Chile but breed elsewhere, such as the Antipodean albatross all the way from New Zealand.

Moving forward, it will be key to ensure high uptake and compliance with the use of mitigation measures on vessels in Chile. To facilitate this process, the ATF has been training local volunteers to build bird-scaring lines. The first batch is already being used by vessels to keep foraging seabirds safe at-sea!

By Nina da Rocha  - Albatross Task Force Project Officer