The causes of seabird bycatch in longline and trawl fisheries are relatively well known, and solutions exist that reduce the mortality in these fisheries. In small scale fisheries, such as purse seine and gillnet fleets, we are still identifying the way in which seabirds interact with fishing gear. This process will lead to a better understanding of where and how mortality occurs. Only once we have identified these factors can we look at potential solutions to prevent this mortality. 

As part of this process the Albatross Task Force in Chile is participating in a project led by the Universidad Católica del Norte and funded by the Subsecretaria de Pesca. The project goal is to determine the impact of small scale fisheries on the marine environment and will include fishing fleets along the coast of Chile from Arica in the north to Puerto Montt in the south. This project involves both on shore interviews with fishing captains and at sea monitoring in the main fisheries. 

Last month a group of twelve participants began the project in earnest with the first at sea trips and port visits. The reaction from the fishing industry has been very positive and supportive so far, with a high level of collaboration allowing the team to join the crew for sea trips and providing long and detailed answers to questionnaires in the ports.  The project will continue for twelve months, ending in a series of workshops with industry to reveal the results of the study and discuss possible solutions. 

Below: Paulina Arce conducts a port questionnaire. Photo Maximiliano Daigre