CELEBRATING ZERO SEABIRD BYCATCH!
“This simple device has now saved the lives of countless numbers of the worlds most beautiful and noble seabirds.” Sir David Attenborough June 2020.
Over 300,000 seabirds, 100,000 of which are albatrosses are killed annually in the longline fisheries for tuna around the world. The Hookpod is a new invention which is starting to turn the tide on these numbers.
Since New Zealand changed its longline fishing regulations in January 2020, to allow the standalone use of the Hookpods to prevent seabird bycatch, there has been a gradual process of equipping the surface longline fleet out with the device.
A total of 15 vessels are now fishing commercially using Hookpods around the waters of New Zealand and we are delighted to report that there has been ZERO seabird bycatch when setting lines on these vessels!
It has been known, since scientific publication in 2017, from trials over 7 years, that the Hookpod is the most effective seabird bycatch mitigation measure available. However, to completely eliminate bycatch during setting in a commercial environment, is better than even we were expecting.
Sir David Attenborough, who was recently made aware of these developments, has written to the Hookpod team to congratulate us on this achievement. “This is truly thrilling news” he said. “Let us hope it is only a matter of time before Hookpods become universal”.
Igor Debski, of the New Zealand Department of Conservation, said “New Zealand is a global seabird hotspot, and this presents particular challenges to avoiding bycatch during fishing. Hookpods have provided a welcome alternative option to mitigate seabird bycatch during the setting of pelagic longlines, and they have been readily adopted by many fishers. Early results are promising and have shown improved effectiveness compared to existing measures, which is helping New Zealand work towards zero bycatch.”
Hookpod CEO Becky Ingham is pleased with the results. “These results mark a real milestone in seabird conservation” she said. “Work to eliminate seabird bycatch has been undertaken for many years, but never with this level of success in commercial operations.”
This is undoubtedly good news for seabirds. However, Hookpod are now looking for options to replicate this around the world in other fisheries. Hookpod still requires support and promotion from the world’s conservation and seabird organisations to achieve the mutual goal of the elimination of seabird bycatch in pelagic longline fisheries.
Reference: Sullivan BJ, Kibel B, Kibel P, Yates O and others (2018). At-sea trialling of the Hookpod: a ‘one-stop’ mitigation solution for seabird bycatch in pelagic longline fisheries. Animal Conservation 21:159−167