Longline Fishing Fleets Have Killed Millions of Albatrosses
Albatrosses and other sea birds roam open oceans and seas to prey on fish at the surface. However, longline fishing fleets roam the same oceans and seas looking for fish. These fleets have killed and continue to kill albatrosses in large numbers.
Globally, albatrosses are one of the most threatened species of birds. Approximately 100,000 albatrosses are killed on trawl cables and longline fishing hooks every year. According to Birdlife International, 17 of the 22 species of albatrosses are today under threat of extinction. Death on longline fishing hooks is therefore the primary driver of the albatross population decline.
Longline fishing, as the name suggests, involves using very long lines of baited hooks. One fleet may use a line that extends for 130 km with as many as 10 to 20,000 hooks baited with squid or fish. One method of longline fishing is placing lines near the seabed while another one is using the lines near the surface to catch certain species of fish such as tuna.
An estimated 300,000 seabirds are killed every year by longline fleets which place almost three billion hooks in the sea. When the hooks are visible at the sea surface, albatrosses spot them and when they try to grab the bait they become hooked and eventually drown. When fishermen pull in the lines, the dead albatrosses are removed and thrown into the sea. Trawl fishing has also been identified as a serious albatross killer. The birds collide with cables or are entangled in nets resulting in their demise. The government and the relevant conservation agencies need to work on a way of curbing this problem.