British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and BirdLife International have released a series of animations to celebrate World Oceans Day (8th June) and World Albatross Day (19 June), 2022. The four animations highlight the threats facing many of the world’s seabirds from poorly managed fisheries, how bycatch occurs, how we can make fisheries safe for seabirds, and some of the results of the Seabird Sentinels project, which was funded by the Darwin Plus scheme.
Seabirds are one of the most threatened groups of vertebrates, and albatrosses are among the most threatened of all bird families. This includes the four albatross species breeding at South Georgia, where long-term monitoring by BAS has revealed steep declines since the 1970s, mainly due to bycatch in fisheries. Although data are patchy, over 600,000 seabirds are thought to be killed each year in longline, trawl and gillnet fisheries.
The good news is that there are solutions. The fisheries around South Georgia are exemplars of best practices in terms of bycatch mitigation, as seabird mortality was reduced from 1000s per year in the late 1990s to negligible levels by the early 2000s. However, the challenge - highlighted by these animations – is making clear the seriousness of the problem, and ensuring seabird-bycatch solutions are implemented in fisheries across the wide expanse of ocean used by these iconic species.