Is Anyone Thinking of The Albatross?
The Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT) will today convene for its annual meeting in Kaohsiung, Taiwan to discuss fishing allocation levels for southern bluefin tuna (SBT), but is anyone thinking of the albatross?
Tens of thousands of albatross and other seabirds, sharks and turtles are unnecessarily killed each year in the SBT fishery and Humane Society International’s (HSI) Alistair Graham is attending the meeting in Taiwan this week to ensure that member countries are held to account. Over the past four years Australia has proposed a resolution that would make measures for saving albatrosses killed in their thousands by this fishery mandatory. This resolution is once again up for discussion this year.
“Despite ongoing uncertainty about the amount of southern bluefin tuna being caught by non-member countries and the fact that the southern bluefin tuna has been reduced to as little as 9% of its pre-exploitation biomass fishing still continues,” HSI’s Alistair Graham said. “Incredibly, we expect talks this week will again seek to increase the quotas being sought by fishers despite the tuna’s perilous state.”
“However HSI’s concerns are not limited to the tuna, as with an increase in quota comes an increase in the numbers of seabirds, sharks and other animals unnecessarily killed as ‘bycatch’ because simple mitigation measures have not been implemented on fishing vessels. This includes 14 threatened albatross species, many of which cannot stand the loss of even small numbers of individuals. This is not only terrible for conservation efforts but easily and entirely avoidable,” continued Mr Graham.
“We hope that this year proposed mandatory mitigation measures to protect albatross from bycatch will finally be adopted by CCSBT members. Without mitigation to reduce albatross bycatch we calculate that one albatross is killed each year for every two tonnes of southern bluefin tuna caught, meaning that any increase in quota will mean hundreds more albatross deaths every year,” continued Mr Graham.
“This week’s CCSBT meeting provides countries with the opportunity to commit to further reduce bycatch in their tuna fisheries, through the agreement to mandatory measures. HSI hopes that in the coming days countries will commit to improving their understanding of the impacts of fishing activities on seabirds and sharks, so that every possible effort is made to reduce this bycatch. This is vital if we want to see the recovery of our threatened albatross and shark species,” concluded Mr Graham.
HSI is available for comment throughout the meeting, which will take place from 6th – 13th October 2016.