Thousands of seabirds perish each year along South Africa’s vast coastline. Most of the deaths can be attributed to being caught in fishing nets, lines and hooks. The Albatross and Petrel species now face extinction but moves are afoot to remedy the situation.
Seabirds play an intrinsic role in marine ecosystems and global concern over dwindling numbers of seabirds has grown in the last couple of years. Marine and Coastal Management (MCM) says it wants to develop a national plan of action to curb the snaring of seabirds in long-line fishing.
Marine scientists from across the globe are gathering in Somerset West outside Cape Town to develop a plan to protect the albatrosses and petrels. Senior Researcher at MCM, Johann Augustyn, says they hope to come up with strong resolutions because seabird numbers are rapidly declining. Augustyn says it’s incumbent upon South Africa to conserve the species since many are found in South African waters.
He added that they were going to place observers on vessels to gather data and ensure that the mortality of the birds is kept at the lowest level possible. “We’ve recently also put out a seabirds and seals protection policy, = we are also following an ecosystem approach to fisheries interims of a number of measures like permit conditions which would protect seabirds against certain activities.”