Hard work not over for international seabird protection

The recent Western & Central Pacific Fisheries Commission in Bali Indonesia proved to be a mixed result for Forest & Bird’s seabird advocate and BirdLife International representative, Karen Baird.
Accidental capture of birds by longline fishing vessels is one of the biggest threats to albatross survival worldwide. Karen Baird attended the commission meeting this month strongly advocating for measures to protect our seabirds in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres from accidental by-catch from longline fishing.
“Larger vessels have been required to use 2 methods of mitigation to reduce seabird bycatch since 2014. This year we achieved a breakthrough in the northern hemisphere – now small vessels less than 24m long are required to use one seabird bycatch mitigation method, so species that migrate there from NZ such as Flesh-footed shearwater will be better protected, alongside north Pacific albatrosses. The new measure for the smaller boats will come into effect from January 2017.
Despite this positive progress in the north, no gain in the southern Hemisphere this time round, “ said Karen Baird.
Two proposals were submitted to improve the Conservation and Management Measure for seabirds at this year’s Commission meeting. Both were the result of 2 years of work by BirdLife International. One was for the north Pacific and one for the south Pacific, both to fill gaps where the available science indicates that mitigation is needed.
“Unfortunately, agreement could not be reached on acceptable measures to protect vulnerable seabirds between 25°S and 30°S in the Southern hemisphere.”
I think there may be practical issues in particular for some Pacific island Countries to adopt mitigation measures at this time, however we hope these can be resolved over the coming year and a measure can be introduced for adoption at the next Commission meeting”.
BirdLife is very pleased to finally have protection for seabirds required on all vessels in the north Pacific,” said Karen Baird, “but long term we would like to see 2 measures required on small vessels and it’s not over yet.
“There is more work to do from all participating countries to find agreement, and ensure seabirds are protected from accidental by-catch,” Said Karen Baird.
Forest & Bird is a partner of BirdLife International.