Posted on the 5th September 2011

BirdLife South Africa

Position Statement on the disturbance and harming of seabirds

  • Seabirds are commonly found foraging in the same areas as those targeted by fishermen.

  • Many species, such as albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters, are natural scavengers and target baited hooks and discards from fishing vessels, as these mimic very closely these species’ natural food sources.

  • Using bait and “chum” during fishing can lead to conflicts between foraging seabirds and recreational anglers and commercial pole-and-line fishermen.

  • BirdLife South Africa opposes the disturbance of seabirds by fishermen using any form of projectile (firearms or other propulsion systems, including ‘paintball’ guns and pellets).

  • This is done to deter the birds from accessing baited hooks, chum or other fishing gear.

  • This practice is likely to cause death (e.g. from direct headshots at close range) and serious injury leading to death (such as a pellet to the eye causing permanent blindness).

  • BirdLife South Africa opposes the killing of seabirds by fishermen in order to retrieve hooks that the birds have swallowed.

    1. The deliberate killing or disturbance of seabirds is illegal in terms of the Sea Birds and Seals Protection Act of 1973. The regulations for the act, published in 2004 inter alia prohibit any killing of seabirds (without a permit) or deliberate disturbance by humans.

  • Shooting projectiles and killing seabirds to retrieve hooks are both unnecessary and illegal. Responsible fishermen do not behave like this.

  • BirdLife South Africa condemns all such actions in the strongest possible terms.



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