Incidental capture of seabirds survey in coastal fisheries

Leandro Tamini

Incidental mortality associated to longline fishing is the main problem for the conservation of nearly all albatross and many petrel species throughout the world. The situation is so serious that 20 of the 24 albatross species are currently threatened with extinction (BirdLife International, 2000). In Argentina seven albatross and petrels species appear listed in different categories; one as critical, Procellaria conspicillata, recently recorded in the Argentine Sea (Savigny 2002), and six as vulnerable: Diomedea epomophora, D. exulans, Phoebetria fusca, Thalassarche chrysostoma, Macronectes giganteus and Procellaria aequinoctialis (BirdLife International 2000). Seabirds can also be affected by other fishing gears. Apart from longline, high incidental captures have been reported in gill nets and trawl fishing elsewhere (Alexander et al. 1997, Bartle 1991, Stagi et al. 1995). However, the extent of interactions between seabirds and trawl nets remains unknown (Alexander et al. 1997, Bartle 1991). Several cases of seabird mortality have been recorded in coastal fisheries associated to different fishing gear (Melvin et al. 1999, Tamini et al. 2002). It has been estimated that 81% of the coastal fleet operating in Argentina work in the Buenos Aires province and fishermen can use more than ten types of fishing gears (Lasta et al. 2001), trawl net being the main one. Regarding this fishing gear, the information about incidental capture of seabirds in this region is scarce. This project addresses the need to record and quantify seabird mortalities in province fisheries of Buenos Aires, Argentina, as well as possible important areas of interaction between coastal fishing fleet on these and other relevant threatened species. The project will incorporate field techniques and training for pre-grade students, government and NGOs and local community members.

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