Seabirds killed in Namibian waters reduced by 98 percent

A juvenile Black-browed albatross caught on a baited hook | Image: Albatross Task Force

This stunning conservation success story comes after a decade of work

Namibia’s longline fisheries were among the world’s deadliest for seabirds, estimated at 30,000 birds accidentally killed each year, including threatened species.

The RSPB and BirdLife International established the Albatross Task Force (ATF) in South America and southern Africa to engage directly with the fishing industry.

The Namibian ATF spent thousands of hours at sea to demonstrate mitigation measures like bird-scaring lines to reduce the by-catch problem.

A member of crew deploys a bird scaring line in the Namibian trawl fishery
A member of crew deploys a bird scaring line in the Namibian trawl fishery
Image: Albatross Task Force

In 2015 the team were successful in advocating for the use of these mitigation measures by law. The new laws meant that bird-scaring lines were widely adopted across the fleets, demonstrating just how effective the potent combination of grassroots engagement and solid regulations has been. 

Building bird scaring lines with Meme Itumbapo in Walvis Bay, Namibia
Image: Albatross Task Force

The success comes hot on the heels of similar success in South Africa in 2014, where albatross bycatch was reduced by 95% in the hake trawl fishery.

In the next two years the aim is to demonstrate similar reductions in Argentina and Chile, and to have made a major contribution to the improved conservation status of seabirds.


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