Namibia on-board with BirdLife to end seabird bycatch in world’s worst fishery
20 March 2015

“Namibia stands at the threshold of moving, in very short time, from being the worst country in the world for seabird bycatch, to the very best”, said Oliver Yates, BirdLife International’s Global Albatross Task Force Coordinator.”

In Namibian waters alone, more than approximately 30,000 seabirds are estimated killed every year due to long-line and trawl fishing, meaning the boats setting out from the fishing port at Walvis Bay are among the most destructive in the world for accidental seabird bycatch.

Since 2008, our Albatross Task Force (ATF) researchers and instructors have stepped on-board these boats with fishermen and demonstrated that a few, very simple and extremely cheap measures can be used, that can all but eliminate seabird bycatch. One example we have been awarded for in neighbouring South Africa is the use of bird-scaring lines to keep birds away from death by entanglement.

Following huge successes for BirdLife’s Albatross Task Force in Namibia, the ATF recently held a workshop in Walvis Bay to consider how they can best support Namibia’s fisheries to address their seabird bycatch problems and will be heading out to sea again to provide practical training to crews.

After a meeting with the Albatross Task Force, the Namibian government initiated the introduction of new regulations that make mandatory the use of measures to avoid seabird bycatch. However, in advance of the promulgation of regulations, the hake trawl association already began voluntary implementation of the ATF’s recommendations. This is a highly commendable and proactive outcome that equates to over 60% of long-line vessels and 10% of trawl vessels in the hake fishery voluntarily using bird-scaring lines. With continued collaborative work these fisheries are on track to achieve full coverage of its fleet in the near future.

Speaking after the latest workshop, Oliver Yates says: “The response from government departments, observers and the fishing industry to the ATF’s findings and recommendations has been remarkably open and collaborative. These are key ingredients to achieving significant, lasting conservation for seabirds.”

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