New Pacific fishing rule could prevent albatross extinctions: conservation group

Souce:Xinhua Publish By Updated 07/12/2012 9:08 pm in Technology / 1 comment


WELLINGTON, Dec. 7 — An international fisheries agreement could help prevent the extinction of some of the world’s biggest seabird species, a New Zealand conservation group announced Friday.

The resolution was passed at a meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), which manages the fishing industry over a large swathe of the Pacific Ocean.

The agreement would affect longliners, which typically set thousands of hooks each day on lines that could extend more than 100 km, operating south of 30 degrees south in areas where albatrosses are known to feed, according to the Forest & Bird organization.

Under the resolution, vessels would have to adopt two of three techniques to prevent the birds swallowing their hooks and drowning.

They could choose between using bird streamers to scare off birds, adding weights to make hooks sink more quickly, or setting hooks at night, when most birds are less active.

Longlining was believed to be the main reason that 17 of the world’s 22 species of albatrosses could soon become extinct.

“If implemented, this decision could reduce the number of albatrosses killed by 80 percent,” Forest & Bird seabird advocate Karen Baird said in a statement.

“So this decision could make the difference between several species of albatross surviving or disappearing forever.”

According to New Zealand’s Department of Conservation (DOC), 14 of the world’s albatross species nest and raise their young in New Zealand, more than anywhere else in the world.

Several are extremely rare, like the Chatham Islands mollymawk, which breeds only on one tiny island in the Chathams group, according to the DOC website.

The birds, which can reach speeds of up to 80 km per hour with wingspans up to 3 meters, spend most of their lives at sea.

Six of the species that nested in New Zealand were in decline, and the WCPFC’s new rule could apply in New Zealand waters and those of other member countries from July 2014, if adopted, Baird said.

“Already, Indian and Atlantic Ocean management authorities have set similar rules, and the other Pacific zones are set to follow suit,” she said.

The WCPFC covers 31 member states and territories as well as the European Union.




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