Guest blog – Hookpod Update by David Agombar

David Agombar is currently Supporter Relations Manager at BTO where he works with donors funding research projects. He is also responsible for the management of the Porzana factory which produces all the metal bird rings used in the UK. He has been a Director of Hookpod Ltd since the business was established. He was previously at RSPB where he was involved in establishing the funding for the Albatross Task Force. Email: dave@hookpod.com

Hookpods are proven to eliminate seabird bycatch on setting in pelagic longline fishing.

The blog covering work of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) was an excellent piece of news. It reminded me that we at Hookpod Ltd ought to pass on more excellent news from work we are doing. We have been developing Hookpods for 11 years and they have been tested in many fisheries with great support from many fishers, NGOs and government departments.

I have been actively involved as a Director of Hookpod since the beginning and it has been a long challenging journey to get the product right and accepted by fishers, governments, NGOs and the Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) who all have regulations in place which may or may not be in regular use at sea.

For those who don’t know, Hookpods are a British-designed piece of technology which prevents seabirds being caught when long lines are set. See details here www.hookpod.com  Hookpod Ltd is a small private company driven by the pressing need to prevent seabird deaths in the fishing industry. Whilst a commercial organisation, Hookpod Ltd is driven by conservation objectives and is funded by shareholders who are philanthropists whose main objective is the elimination of seabird bycatch in longline fisheries.

Today, Hookpods are in commercial use in New Zealand where not a single seabird has been caught during setting of lines, by boats using them since January. We have made massive progress in getting them accepted as the preferred seabird mitigation measure by the Agreement for Conservation of Albatrosses & Petrels (ACAP),  the Western & Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) the New Zealand and Australian Governments. Indeed, the NZ Government has purchased enough Hookpods to equip their entire pelagic longline fleet and 15 boats are now using them in commercial operations and they have been very well received by the industry. Fishermen like them as they have no effect on their operations, are safe, they don’t have to use other mitigation measures such as tori lines, extra line weighting or night setting. Crucially, they have no negative effect on catch rates. See a piece from a fisherman in NZ who is using them here.

More work is going on around the world to encourage take up by other fisheries and the SFP have been very supportive and most helpful. It’s great that multiple food businesses are keen to demonstrate that they are concerned about their environmental impact of seafood supply chains. Indeed, we also have a trial underway funded by Aldi US, fitting Hookpods to a Chinese boat fishing in the Indian Ocean out of Fiji. When this proves a success, as we are confident that it will, Aldi may tell their suppliers that they must use Hookpods. This has arisen from work with SFP and the Tuna Supply Roundtable, and we hope this will lead to other multi-national seafood retailers following suit. We also have a trial underway on two Brazilian boats, managed by Birdlife and RSPB’s Albatross Task Force and to date no seabirds have been caught on these either.

We have many other developments underway including in Japan, Taiwan, USA & Europe. Our Annual Review here gives full details.

We are now at a point where we can categorically say that Hookpods eliminate seabird bycatch in line setting in the pelagic longline fishing industry. All we need to do is get them used around the world and the excellent work being done by our partners including the SFP is beginning to turn the tide. (excuse the awful pun)

We have been supported and funded by many people including those who visited us over the last few years at Birdfair, those who joined our crowdfunding, our many shareholders and various partners and donors.

We are at a point where we can see the end of albatrosses and other seabirds being killed in longline fishing. All we have to do is get every government to follow the NZ example, get every fish retailer to insist on eliminating seabird bycatch and get every pelagic longline fishing vessel fitted out with Hookpods. Thanks to everybody who has helped us to get this far.

Contact us at: Twitter @Hookpod and https://www.facebook.com/hookpod

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