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Helping to prevent seabird and turtle bycatch in Brazil.

Posted on: 5th November 2018Brazilian fishermen are keen to be involved with these trials, thanks to the hard work of Projeto Albatroz researchers
If you’re reading this blog, the chances are that you already know the dangers of longline fishing to seabirds and turtles. 


Bycatch in longline fisheries is a huge threat for albatrosses, large petrel species, and marine turtles, many of which are already endangered. It is estimated that over 300,000 seabirds are killed by longline fisheries globally every year, as the birds become caught on fishing hooks while they scavenge for the bait being set by the fishermen at the stern of vessel.

Hookpod can help stop these needless deaths of marine wildlife and we are working hard with BirdLife International, the Albatross Task Force (ATF) and Projeto Albatroz in Brazil to stop this. 

Trials in Brazil, South Africa and Australia, have shown that Hookpod can reduce seabird bycatch by up to 95% without affecting the catch of target fish species. In Brazil - a global hotspot for seabird bycatch - the Albatross Task Force team carried out trials in 2017 to monitor the effect of the Hookpod in the pelagic longline fleet. Similar to other studies, the results showed that the Hookpod could reduce seabird bycatch to rates of 0.01 birds/1000 hooks

However, we believe this bycatch rate can be reduced even further if the Hookpod is released at a greater depth, especially in areas with high densities of medium-sized diving petrels capable of retrieving baits from depths beyond 10 meters. There is evidence of deep-setting longline fisheries having lower turtle bycatch rates too. Thus, Hookpods with a greater opening depths may benefit turtles as well as deeper-diving seabirds. 

Thanks to generous crowdfunding earlier this year we are now able to start the production and assembly of the first 3000 Hookpods ready for shipment to Brazil. The devices have started their journey from factory to assembly and we are really hopefully that they will be in Brazil by December to start their important work.

Thanks to the support from so many of you, this will be the largest Hookpod trial ever conducted in which four vessels fitted with Hookpods will be compared to vessels from same fleet, using standard gear to fish in the same area and season. This will involve a huge coordinated effort of dedicated ATF instructors and Projeto Albatroz observers, our strategic partner in Brazil, gathering data onboard vessels with Hookpods as well as standard vessels, simultaneously.

This important work is only possible due to the voluntarily cooperation of fisherman. The ATF team in Brazil have a good relationship with the fleet and have already found five skippers that are keen to take part in this unprecedented and needed research.

The Agreement for the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP) Advisory Committee added the Hookpod to their list of best practice measures for mitigating seabird bycatch in 2016 and the coming trials have also received support through ACAP's Small Grant scheme.

We await the approval of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission in December 2018 which will, if granted, allow the use of Hookpods as a standalone measure to prevent seabird bycatch.

Read more about the work of the ATF at  https://bit.ly/2ysgc5j 


Becky Ingham, November 2018