As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Friday 15 February 2019

This simple trick has saved 1000s of rare seabirds from death

February 6, 2019
Between 2002 and 2015, these 'streamer lines' helped reduce seabird by-catch in Alaskan fisheries by 78%..
It sounds like the most miserable of deaths. A seabird sees a buffet of bait beneath the water, and takes a dive to feast, only to get caught in a fishing boat longline and dragged underneath to drown. As Nature reports of Alaska's rare albatross and other birds who meet this awful fate, "Every year, hundreds of thousands are accidentally hooked and dragged to the depths of the ocean, where they drown.'
It's obviously a terrible thing for the birds, and it's not great for the fisherman either. WWF found that Russia’s largest longline operation was losing nearly $800,000 a year in lost bait and catch as a result of diving birds.
But there's a brilliant (and cheap) fix: Streamer lines. Like scarecrows of the sea, Smithsonian reports that the idea came from a fisherman in Japan, who found that by "flanking the end of his fishing vessel with streamer lines the birds shied away from his wake."
Nature explains that in Alaska, Ed Melvin, the Marine Fisheries Senior Scientist for Washington Sea Grant,and his colleagues used bright orange plastic tubes above the water to keep the birds away, to tremendous success. Between the years 2002 and 2015, this simple trick has helped to reduce seabird by-catch in Alaskan fisheries by a significant 78 percent.

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