Following a decade of hard work, Namibia has managed to reduce by a whopping 98% the number of accidental deaths of seabirds, including threatened species, thanks to effective government regulations and the industry’s dedication to the problem.
“It’s truly wonderful to see bycatch drop by such a huge amount in Namibia,” says Samantha Matjila, the Namibia Albatross Task Force (ATF) Team Leader with the Namibia Nature Foundation. “Our waters are crucial for many globally threatened seabirds – to think that our collaborative efforts with all the vessels and the fishery managers has resulted in more than 22,000 birds being saved every year is something special.”
In Namibia alone, roughly 30,000 birds were killed each year, including the Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross and white-chinned petrels, two endangered species. The problem of the capture of non-target species in fisheries, or bycatch, came with “simple and elegant solutions”, according to Rory Crawford, Bycatch Programme Manager at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. One of these mitigation measures is a scarecrow type rope line that scares birds away. This solution was so successful that as of 2015, the use of mitigation measures on fishing vessels was required by law.
The success of the Namibia ATF follows the South African one in 2014, and in the next two years, Argentina and Chile hope to have their own seabird success story.