When our Albatross Task Force instructors are not monitoring seabirds out at sea, they spend their time teaching fishers about seabird conservation and bycatch mitigation in key ports across South America and southern Africa. 

In Brazil, our instructors are based in port towns in the south-eastern part of the country. This is an important foraging area for many albatrosses and petrels breeding in the south Atlantic. But, with lots of fishing going on in the area, it is a risky place to be a hungry seabird in search of your next meal.  As the birds attempt to steal tasty bait off longlines, many become accidentally hooked and drown. To help protect these seabirds, many of which are already threatened with extinction, it is therefore crucial that fishers are taught how to prevent these needless deaths.  

 Over the past couple of months, our ATF instructor Augusto has been teaching fishers in-training at the Federal Institute of Santa Catarina in Brazil exactly how to do that. To start off with, the soon-to-be fishers are introduced to the biology and behaviour of albatrosses and petrels, as well as the threats they face at-sea. They are then taught about the different seabird bycatch mitigation measures that can be used to protect these birds and shown how to build their own bird-scaring lines. 

Image to the right: Fishers in-training at the Federal Institute of Santa Catarina are shown how to build bird-scaring lines that keep seabirds a safe distance from baited longline hooks.

We also talk about handling live seabirds that sometimes come aboard and may be in need of special care from the crew” explains Augusto.

Delivering training to a large group of fishers is often logistically difficult, since they spend so much of their time out at sea. Informing aspiring fishers about seabird bycatch mitigation before they head out to sea therefore presents an incredible opportunity for the ATF to get the conservation message across to the people that will be interacting with albatrosses and petrels on a daily basis for years to come. By working together, we are helping to save thousands of seabirds from a needless death! 

With thanks to the Federal Institute of Santa Catarina and our parter Projeto Albatroz for making this collaboration possible.

By Nina da Rocha - Albatross Task Force Project Officer