Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries

Jan 20, 2003
Author: DEAT

The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) has drafted a National Plan of Action for reducing the incidental catch of Seabirds in longline fisheries (NPOA-Seabrids) after concern started to grow over the numbers of seabirds, especially albatrosses, being killed by longline vessels in Southern Africa. Studies in the 1980's had shown decreases in population sizes, leading researchers to assess just how many birds were being killed by longline hooks. The results were alarming; an early study estimated that 44 000 albatrosses were being killed annually by one Southern Ocean fishery alone.

The plan sets out the required mitigation measures to reduce mortality of seabirds to below an interim target level of 0.05 birds/thousand hooks by South Africa's four longline fisheries for hake, tuna and swordfish, Patagonian toothfish, and sharks.

Accompanying the draft NPOA-Seabirds is an assessment of the problem for each South African longline fishery, along with biological and conservation information on each of the several species of birds known to be killed by longliners in South African waters (mainly albatrosses and petrels), and brief descriptions of international and regional organizations and agreements relevant to the issue.

On Thursday, 16 January 2003, stakeholders attended a workshop in Cape Town to discuss the draft text of the NPOA-Seabirds. At this workshop Birdlife South Africa also launched a Seabird Identification Poster.

The NPOA-Seabirds document is available for public comment on the Department's website

The deadline for comments is 31 January 2003 and should be sent to Ms Leshia Upfold, Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Marine & Coastal Management Branch, Pvt Bag X2, Roggebaai 8012; fax (021)-421-7406; or to

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