Posted on the 18th June 2021

BirdLife South Africa and the world celebrated World Albatross Day on Saturday 19 June. This year's theme was “Ensuring albatross-friendly fisheries” which seeks to draw attention to the threats faced by albatrosses as they interact with fisheries.

World Albatross Day is an initiative of the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP), and this year marks the twentieth anniversary of the signing of the agreement. ACAP works by coordinating international activities aimed at finding best-practice solutions that reduce the threats to albatross and petrel populations.

In support of this day, ACAP featured the two most threatened Albatross species, one of which occurs in our waters - the Critically Endangered Tristan Albatross of which only 2500 pairs remain. Please access the free downloadable posters and infographics about these species. (Contact Anton for these links). They have been made available for schools and members of the public for use in drawing attention to their conservation crisis.

Albatrosses are the largest flying birds, exquisitely adapted to effortlessly brave the wildest of storms and howling winds. These slow-maturing seabirds with extraordinary life spans of at least 70 years, readily circumvent the Southern Ocean, covering thousands of kilometres to bring back a single meal for their chick. In their quest for food, however, it often brings them in close contact with fishing vessels. Attracted by fish discards and baited hooks, interactions with fishing gear can lead to injury or death in a form of mortality known as “bycatch”, a leading cause of declining populations among the 22 species of albatrosses globally.

Efforts to ensure albatross-friendly fisheries are the ongoing work of the international Albatross Task Force (ATF), a team of seabird bycatch experts supported by the BirdLife International Marine Programme. By directly engaging and collaborating with fisheries stakeholders on the ground, the BirdLife South Africa ATF team is implementing seabird bycatch mitigation measures in various fisheries. Dramatic reductions in albatross deaths have been achieved in the hake trawl fishery with albatross deaths reduced from 7300 individuals annually in 2004/2005, to less than 100 dead today. With much still to be done in other fisheries, as well as in maintaining the reductions already achieved, the work of the ATF remains critical.

For more information, please contact the Albatross Task Force in South Africa
Andrea Angel, Cell: +27 78 389 7537
Reason Nyengera, Cell: +27 84 625 0358

Herewith some wonderful images of albatrosses taken by BirdLife Overberg member Riaan Jacobs on a pelagic cruise with the Dyer Island Conservation Trust from Kleinbaai along the Cape Whale Coast




























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