• Environmental awareness in Chilean coastal towns

    A long the coast of Chile there are often locally organised fairs intended to display the projects that are conducted in the region. These are popular with local university students and school children and represent a great opportunity to explain how the work of the Albatross Task Force is working with the fishing industry to prevent the incidental bycatch of threatened seabirds.

    One of the main objectives of the Task…

    • 25 Jul 2014
  • Working as an intern with BirdLife South Africa

    I have been completing an internship with BirdLife South Africa, as part of the Groen Sebenza internship programme. It has given me an opportunity to learn more about my career options in conservation. I have learnt of the collaboration between different conservation organisations and met interesting people who play a vital role in conservation.

    Personally I found BirdLife South Africa’s Albatross Task Force team to…

    • 25 Jul 2014
  • Reducing seabird mortality in Namibia

    In Namibia we are working to reduce seabird mortality in the longline and trawl fisheries. Together these two fisheries are responsible for the accidental mortality of around 30,000 seabirds per year, the majority of which are white-chinned petrels and yellow-nosed albatross. These alarming figures represent one of the most lethal fisheries in the world in terms of seabird bycatch. Despite this high level of mortality,…

    • 21 Jul 2014
  • Social dynamics at sea

    While we are at sea it is important for us understand more than just the interaction between seabirds and vessels.

    To reach out and connect with the captains and crew we must learn to understand the life of these people with whom we share our time, and ultimately the people who will be responsible for the adoption of new practices in their daily routine that will help save the albatross. Some of the people we meet are…

    • 18 Jul 2014
  • Amazing new invention from UK business ready to save the Albatross

    Globally, an albatross dies on a fishing hook every 5 minutes. Hookpod is a clever new invention that catches fish, not birds. Designed by Devon-based brothers Ben and Pete Kibel and trialled extensively by the RSPB Albatross Task Force on behalf of BirdLife International, it’s small in size, big in innovation and has huge implications for saving the albatross from extinction.

    What’s the problem?

    By far…

    • 17 Jul 2014
  • Public speaking: a big part of working with the ATF

    The first thing to realize if you plan on enjoying life in the ATF, is that you will have to speak in public and it will happen a lot! Despite being shy sometimes, these opportunities are going to keep coming up and you have to learn to enjoy them.

    You have to understand that it’s only going to get better if you face up to it and know that the earlier you start doing it the better, because the longer you wait the more…

    • 12 Jul 2014
  • A life of adventure

    The life of an ATF instructor is filled with adventure. Our job is to collect seabird abundance and interaction data at sea. It involves working with fishermen to find and implement solutions to seabird bycatch. It comes with a lot of amazing opportunities; we wake up at sea to the wonderful sound of birds, surrounded by the beautiful blue waters of the ocean and a peaceful atmosphere which comes with the sea-breeze.

    • 12 Jul 2014
  • Greening the Future award for ATF South Africa

    The South African newspaper, the Mail & Guardian holds a prestigious, annual ‘Greening the Future’ awards ceremony in Johannesburg. This year the South African Albatross Task Force team was awarded top honours for our work introducing an innovative solution that has reduced albatross deaths in the local trawl fishery by more than 90%.

    Our work in South Africa’s largest, most economically valuable fishery…

    • 1 Jul 2014
  • Future for nature award: helping save the albatross

    In April 2014, three young conservationists all making a difference in their own way, headed to the Netherlands to receive the Future for Nature Award 2014. I was one of the three people awarded for my work with the Albatross Task Force, preventing unnecessary deaths of seabirds during fishing operations. I was selected from a total of 126 applications from 58 countries to be one of the lucky recipients of this prestigious…

    • 11 Jun 2014
  • Understanding seabird bycatch in small scale fisheries

    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…

    • 6 Jun 2014
  • Albatross deaths down by 99% in local trawl fishery

    Conservation success stories are hard to find. Rarely are they the result of simple, elegant solutions that are truly win-win. Now BirdLife South Africa have demonstrated just such a good-news outcome. Accidental seabird deaths during fishing is the single greatest threat facing many seabird populations. Albatrosses, in particular, are under extreme pressure with 15 of the world’s 22 albatross species threatened with…

    • 12 May 2014
  • Workshop on gillnet and purse seine fisheries

    Each year an estimated 400,000 seabirds are killed in gillnet fisheries, while no estimates exist yet for purse seine fleets. Little attention has been given to purse seine fisheries as it was thought they had little impact on seabirds. Alarming new evidence is starting to change that perspective.

    The Albatross Task Force has been monitoring both of these fisheries in three countries, Chile, Peru and Ecuador as part…

    • 8 May 2014
  • Monitoring small scale gillnet fisheries in Peru

    The port of San José is a quiet village where everyone knows each other. Most of the people who live there are fishermen, so it is not surprising that everything revolves around fish. The fishermen in San José are divided into two groups, those who go out just for one day trips (called “chalaneros”) and those who go out for one week or more (called “cortineros”). This time Philipp Hofmann of local NGO ProDelphinus…

    • 22 Apr 2014
  • Chalaneros and Cortineros: at sea in Peru

    Fernando Valdez Ridoutt from ProDelphinus in Peru writes today's ATF blog:

    It is not easy to figure out everything Peruvian small-scale fishermen go through to get their catch from sea to market. I have been discovering this in the port of San José, first hand. I have been working hard to collaborate with these fishermen and have been welcomed as an observer on several different boats.

    Work begins between…

    • 16 Apr 2014
  • A rare calm trip off South Africa

    Going to sea is the most unique aspect of this job, and my primary duty – to go on deep-sea trawlers and collect seabird interaction data. I’m one of only three people in South Africa doing this. We are responsible for keeping our eyes peeled and our minds open but focused on the task at hand: seabirds and mitigating bycatch. Three weeks into the job, I landed on my first commercial deep-sea hake trawler.

    • 1 Apr 2014
  • A floating holiday

    When I began working with the ATF, I always wondered what it would be like to be at sea during an important holiday – like Christmas or New Year. The idea of being away from home, working over such occasions did not fill me with enthusiasm. In the first five years working with the ATF my sea trips never coincided with national holidays… but there is always a first time. This year I was due to embark around the Christmas…
    • 1 Apr 2014
  • The next generation of albatross scientists

    I remember each step I have taken with the ATF, at-sea with the birds as well as on-shore with my own kind - generally people directly related with fisheries. However, seabird bycatch issues can transcend the geographical border between open-ocean and coast and infiltrate our towns and cities. By doing so, it can pique the interest of the most important part of our society: the next generation.

    In one of my previous…

    • 27 Mar 2014
  • Meeting for conservation interns in Johannesburg

    I am working with the Albatross Task Force as a project through the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) Internship programme. Recently I had a great opportunity to meet other people in the programme, which felt amazing. Together we are a group of hundreds of young and inspirational people.  I met other interns who come from different backgrounds and learnt about their lives as they were growing up and how…

    • 23 Mar 2014
  • International recognition for ATF star Bronwyn Maree

    In the Albatross Task Force we are extremely proud of the dedicated individuals who perform a very challenging role for seabird conservation - working with the fishing industry, government and observer agencies both on-shore and at-sea to demonstrate, introduce and implement mitigation measures to keep albatross off the hook. It gives us great pleasure to announce that one of the stars of the ATF has received international…

    • 11 Jan 2014
  • The great Baobab tree has fallen

    Today I just want to pay tribute to my lifelong hero and role model Tata Nelson Mandela. His death really struck a chord in my heart that was never struck before. I guess it is true what they say when they say ‘you never know what you have until it is gone’. His death has sturred up emotions in me I never knew I had, it moved me in ways I have never been moved. In all honesty I just couldn’t hold back the litres of tears…

    • 13 Dec 2013
  • The complexity of working with small-scale fisheries

    Today's blog is from Luis Cabezas, ATF team leader in Chile who explains some of the challenges faced this year with the small-scale fishing fleet in Chile.

    Amongst the challenges ATF Chile faced in 2013 was developing a preliminary understanding of how the artisanal or small scale fleet interacts with seabirds, particularly the net fisheries. In Chile, the small-scale fleet is dominated by purse-seine vessels that…

    • 13 Dec 2013
  • The threat of rats and mice to the seabirds of our oceans

    Having spent close to three months on Nightingale and then Tristan da Cunha Islands last year I was struck by the incredible seabird diversity on the uninhabited and much smaller island of Nightingale. As many as 13 different seabird species breed on the 3 square kilometre volcanic island with a highest point of 400 m above sea level.

    Not too far away is the massive island of Tristan at over 200 square kilometres in…

    • 4 Dec 2013
  • Lights, camera, action!

    “Lights, camera, action” - that has been the highlight of my month as I was interviewed about the work of the Albatross Task Force and BirdLife in South Africa. I found out that being on television is no easy business. First you have to deal with the intensely bright lights, as bright as the midday summer Limpopo sun. Then you have this group of people who are intensely focused on you all the time and if you are self…

    • 4 Dec 2013
  • Learning to co-exist

    The earth works as a system, any conservation effort from one environmental sector successfully aids in the preservation of another natural resource. Unfortunately, the same applies with regards to overexploitation.

    I have been given the opportunity to work with the ATF in South Africa as part of a government intership grant and the above point was highlighted at a recent WWF-SA Groen Sebenza Interns Workshop Programme…

    • 3 Dec 2013
  • A wonderful blue world

    This post was written by Astrid Jimenez for ProDelphinus.

    I spent the day in a boliche boat, or purse siener surrounded by what I consider a real life experience, the things that cannot be seen or heard, but that one has to live to fully understand them. Today, around me, the ocean seems to swallow part of a continent and as part of this landscape, a group of fishermen sail upstream in search of what will be their catch…

    • 2 Dec 2013