HSI has long been involved in the conservation of albatross, working to address one of the primary threats facing these birds worldwide, long-line fishing. The good news is that as a result of HSI’s efforts to reduce the threats posed by long-line fishing, the Australian Government now estimates that the by-catch of albatross in Australia has reduced tenfold in the last five to seven years. However the bad news is that despite this, many albatross species remain highly endangered, and so it is vital that HSI’s goal of zero by-catch is achieved as soon as possible.
Sadly, our research has highlighted the impact trawling fisheries have on albatross, with trawling now taking over as a key threat with alarming mortality rates. Seabirds are caught and drowned in trawl nets behind boats as they dive down to feast on the offal discards thrown overboard by fishers as they deal with earlier catches. One study has estimated that the Commonwealth trawl sector killed 250 blackbrowed albatross and 861 shy albatross in 2006 (compared to a still serious 18 blackbrowed albatross and 35 shy albatross deaths in the Commonwealth long-line fleets). Both these species are protected as vulnerable to extinction under Federal environmental legislation (thanks to HSI) and it is likely that these reported figures are indicative of a much wider seabird by-catch problem in the trawl sector.
It is clear that urgent action needs to be taken to address this by-catch. Since becoming aware of this information, HSI has written to both the Environment and Fisheries Ministers and met with Minister Burke, urging them to take action to address the significant threats posed to albatross by trawl fisheries. HSI is calling for the implementation of a comprehensive national plan containing simple measures such as the retention of offal. This would be one easy but significant step that could be taken and would likely result in a reduction of seabirds killed.
! ACTION REQUIRED
Senator the Hon Joe Ludwig, Minister for Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry, and
The Hon Tony Burke, MP, Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities,
c/o Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, 2600.
Urge them to immediately introduce a comprehensive action plan to ensure that no more albatross are killed by Australian trawlers.
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