As part of the wider work conducted by ATF instructors in our home countries, I have recently led on an initiative to publish relevant information on seabird bycatch in Chilean fisheries. The resulting work describes Chile's globally important colonies of endangered and endemic seabird species, and globally vulnerable nonbreeding species that visit our waters. One of the major threats for seabirds in Chilean waters is the impact of fishing activities, both industrial and artisanal, which overlap with seabird breeding and foraging areas. Bycatch in fisheries threatens 27 identified species and two groups of unidentified albatrosses and penguins, with the Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophrys as the species most related to bycatch events.
Below: Black-browed albatross. Photo by Oliver Yates
Responding to the international call for the voluntary adoption of a plan to reduce the impacts of fisheries on seabirds, Chile generated a National Plan of Action (PAN-AM/Chile) to monitor seabird bycatch, and to mitigate threats to seabirds with emphasis on industrial longline fisheries. Following the successful reduction of seabird bycatch in the demersal longline fishery for Patagonian toothfish Dissostichus eleginoides, with zero individuals caught during 2006, Chile is extending the PAN-AM/Chile to include other fisheries that use gear known to cause incidental mortality, such as trawl, purse seine, and gillnets. This initiative is supported by actions associated with the creation of a national scientific committee for biodiversity, and new collaborative research platforms under the auspices of the Chilean Undersecretariat for Fisheries and Aquaculture.
This work has been published in in Volume 41 of the journal Pacific Seabirds and has been a great example of how a group of national researchers can collaborate for the benefit of birds. The publication is available on line and canbe downloaded from the following link:
Suazo, C.G., Cabezas, L.A., Moreno, C.A., Arata, J.A., Luna-Jorquera, G., Simeone, A., Adasme, L., Azócar, J., García, M., Yates, O. and Robertson, G. (2014) Seabird bycatch in Chile: a synthesis of its impacts, and a review of strategies to contribute to the reduction of a global phenomenon. Pacific Seabirds, 41 (1-2): 1-12.
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