EC urged to intervene to prevent extinction of albatross Published: 24 May, 2007
SCOTTISH Euro MP, Struan Stevenson is calling for the CCAMLR (Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources), the body that regulates fishing in the Southern Ocean, to end possible extinction of the Galapagos Albatross through current longline fishing practices.
In a letter to Commissioner Joe Borg, Mr Stevenson renewed calls from the European Parliaments Fisheries Committee for the European Commission to intervene and impose a restriction that longline fishing should only be permitted at night when birds will not be in flight or see the bait.
Commenting on the issue, Mr Stevenson said: “I am appalled that, as members of the CCAMLR, this organisation has failed to take the necessary action to combat this wanton slaughter of sea birds. This is particularly the case in the Pacific, where the unique colony of Galapagos albatrosses faces near extinction.
Longliners shoot extensive baited fishing lines, sometimes stretching for many miles, with fish-baited hooks at one metre intervals. As these lines are being shot, albatrosses swoop on the bait, and then drown when they are unable to free themselves from the hook. Documentary coverage has shown appalling images of longline fishermen pulling hundreds of drowned albatrosses from their lines as they reel them in, throwing the dead birds into the sea.
This dreadful problem can however by easily solved. The European Parliaments Fisheries Committee has made frequent recommendations over the last five years to the CCAMLR, urging longliners to shoot their lines only after dark, when no albatrosses are present and they are unable to see the bait. In addition, relatively cheap tubing can be fixed to the longline vessels, enabling the lines to be shot under water, thus avoiding any likelihood of albatross by-catch.
It is important that we should reinforce our demands for such cost-effective and efficient controls to be introduced, before the global albatross population is wiped out. These measures, although present in some of the longlining fleet, must be extended across the whole fleet as it is obvious that attempts to solve this problem have been unsuccessful.”
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