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Save the Albatross

Task Force takes to the high seas?

BirdLife’s Save the Albatross Campaign has entered a new phase today with the launch of Operation Ocean Task Force, an initiative by the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) to place trainers on longline fishing vessels to show the crews simple and practical techniques to prevent seabird deaths.

Around 100,000 albatrosses a year—approximately one every five minutes—drown when taking bait from hooks suspended on longlines up to 130 km long. As a result, 19 of the world’s 21 species of albatross are now threatened with global extinction.

Hanging streamers near fishing lines to scare birds away, weighting lines to make hooks sink more quickly and dyeing bait to make it less visible to seabirds, are all extremely simple, yet proven, techniques to avoid the needless slaughter of albatrosses and other seabirds.

Funds to support the Task Force will be raised through a new RSPB/BirdLife website, http://www.savethealbatross.net, which will invite people to donate online to help efforts to save these magnificent birds. The site will host information on all aspects of albatrosses, and there will be regular updates on the birds and other wildlife seen by crews taking part in the world’s premier ocean sailing challenge—The Volvo Ocean Race—whose organisers are supporting the Save the Albatross Campaign."Albatrosses should be free to circle the globe for millions of years to come—we must stop this needless slaughter now to prevent an entire branch being torn from the evolutionary tree." Said Sir David Attenborough. Speaking at the Task Force’s launch, veteran broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, the Vice-President of the RSPB, announced his support for the campaign and commented: "It is awe-inspiring to think that some of the albatrosses nesting when I started my broadcasting career are still raising young, half a century later. However, with 100,000 of these birds drowning annually on longlines, the chance of an individual albatross surviving to old age now, seems as remote as the ability of many albatross species to exist beyond the end of this century."Glenn Bourke, Volvo Ocean Race’s Chief Executive, added: "Long before man took to the oceans, albatrosses were mastering the elements to navigate the oceans. Their grace, beauty and remarkable endurance has inspired generations of sailors in their quest towards new horizons. As a racing sailor myself, I cannot imagine the loneliness of crossing the Southern Ocean without being accompanied by these fellow ocean voyagers. Yet, within the lifetime of many sailors—perhaps even my own—that will be the case if we don’t act now."

The Volvo Ocean Race 2005–2006 will leave Vigo in northern Spain on 12 November and finish in Gothenburg, Sweden, next June, after completing a circumnavigation of the planet. During the Southern Ocean legs of the race, the crews will pass through some of the richest albatross waters in the world.

Visit the new Save the Albatross web site at:http://www.savethealbatross.net

4th July 2014