25 Sep 2019
At the end of last month, the Chilean Government took a vital and welcome step towards saving thousands of seabirds from being needlessly killed in their trawl fisheries by introducing new regulations making the use of mitigation measures mandatory.
New regulations introduced by the Chilean Government at the end of August will require a number of important trawl fleets to implement measures that reduce the bycatch of seabirds. This includes not only the use bird-scaring lines, which keep birds away from the trawl cables that can break their wings and kill them, but also other measures, including ‘snatch blocks’ to reduce the risk of albatrosses colliding with the net monitoring cable, and limits to the discarding of offal, which attracts birds to fishing vessels in the first place.
These regulations are the culmination of over a decade of work from our Albatross Task Force (ATF) team in Chile, who have worked alongside fishers, researchers and the national observer programmes of the Chilean Fisheries Development Institute (IFOP) and the Undersecretariat of Fisheries (SUBPESCA) to draw attention to the issue of seabird bycatch by testing and demonstrating the simple ways that these unnecessary deaths can be avoided.
“The announcement of these new regulations is wonderful news for the many albatrosses and petrels that use the seas around Chile to find food for themselves and their chicks,” Cristián Suazo, leader of ATF-Chile says. “This includes birds that breed both in our remote southern colonies and on the other side of the Pacific in New Zealand.”