New fishing techniques urged to save birds

Dec. 7, 2012 at 7:43 PM
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WELLINGTON, New Zealand, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- A New Zealand conservation group says an international fisheries agreement could help save the albatross, among the largest seabird species, from extinction.

The Forest & Bird organization hailed a resolution passed at a meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, which oversees operations of the fishing industry over large areas of the Pacific Ocean.

The agreement would affect so-called longliners, ships that set thousands of hooks on lines that can be as long as 60 miles, and which operate in Pacific waters south of 30 degrees south, where albatrosses are known to feed, Chinese news agency Xinhua reported Friday.

Under the resolution, vessels would have to adopt measures to prevent albatross from swallowing the hooks and drowning.

Longliners could choose between using bird streamers to scare off birds, adding weights to make hooks sink more quickly or setting hooks at night when albatross are less active.

"If implemented, this decision could reduce the number of albatrosses killed by 80 percent," Forest & Bird seabird advocate Karen Baird said in a statement.

Longlining is considered a reason why 17 of the world's 22 species of albatross are threatened with extinction, conservationists said.

"So this decision could make the difference between several species of albatross surviving or disappearing forever," Baird said.

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