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Aves Argentinas and Argentine hoki bottom and mid-water trawl fishery

Amount funded: £48,774

This project focuses on further reducing seabird interactions in the MSC certified Argentine hoki bottom and mid-water trawl fishery. In particular, the research will involve on-board testing of bespoke bird-scaring lines and investigating the use of wireless net communication technology.

In trawl fisheries, seabirds are often attracted to the fishing vessels by fish and offal discards, but they can become injured or killed by collisions with the trawl warp cables that toe the fishing nets, as well as the third wire cable used to monitor the nets during fishing. Bird-scaring lines are brightly coloured streamers attached to the back of the boat used to deter birds.

The hoki fishery, operating in the Patagonian Shelf in Antarctica was first certified in 2012 but as part of its condition of certification, must make sure it is regularly reviewing unwanted catch mitigation efforts and implementing these.

What the project is doing

Awardees Aves Argentinas Albatross Task Force (ATF) with support from Birdlife International and The Royal Society for Protection of Birds (RSPB) have been supporting the fishery’s efforts to minimise its impact on endangered, threatened and protected seabird species since 2012.

Research by Aves Argentinas ATF found that by introducing mitigation measures around the warp cables, mortalities were reduced by 88% in the fishery. In 2018, the Federal Fishery Council introduced regulations to use bird-scaring lines to reduce mortalities around the warp cable but these do not consider third wire mortalities.

Now, with support from the MSC Science and Research Fund, the project aims to specifically address mortality of albatrosses and giant petrels that can become entangled in the third trawl wire as they forage with their wings open.

The project will also be taking a participatory approach which includes working closely with the fishers and fishing managers to evaluate success and consider barriers they may face in adapting their gear.

Seabird interactions and mortalities are a global trawl fishery issue, the results of this project will be widely disseminated, helping drive greater understanding and fishery improvements in vessels using a third wire in the Argentine Sea.

“We have been working with a certified fishery since 2012 and the MSC certification has allowed us to achieve a spirit of collaboration and understanding between the different actors – which can be difficult to achieve in other fisheries. In terms of species conservation, working in a certified fishery means we can gather results more efficiently.”

Leandro L. Tamini, Mariune Program Coordinator

Aves Argentinas

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