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Don't can albatrosses, warns BirdLife at global tuna summit

Intent to reduce over-fishing and to combat illegal fishing

As representatives from the five commissions controlling global tuna fishing meet for a week of talks on the future of tuna stocks, BirdLife International and the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) have warned that the fate of the world’s albatrosses rest heavily on the results. The Joint Meeting of the Tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organisations, taking place in Kobe, Japan, will look at ways to reduce over-fishing and to combat illegal fishing, both of which are depleting valuable tuna and swordfish stocks around the world. Representatives from both organisations are pushing the commissions involved in the meeting to address these issues and to resolve the issue of by-catch by putting in place alternatives to long-lining, a fishing practice that has caused dramatic declines in global seabirds."Nineteen of the world's 21 species of albatross are threatened with extinction and by-catch from long-line fisheries, including those for tuna and swordfish, is the principal threat. Coordinated action by the tuna commissions is critical to the survival of many albatrosses, as well as other vulnerable species including turtles, sharks and, of course, tuna and swordfish stocks.” said Dr Cleo Small, of BirdLife International, who is attending this week's meeting. "By acting together to address by-catch issues, the tuna commissions can share knowledge and spread the cost of development of these by-catch mitigation measures." she added.

Last month saw the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) become the first tuna commission to make obligatory at least two mitigation measures to prevent seabird bycatch. The move was deemed ‘a step in the right direction’ by BirdLife.

"Failure by the tuna commissions to resolve over fishing and by-catch issues will not only leave tuna 'canned', but many other species, including albatrosses, will be 'canned' too." said Dr Small.

BirdLife's ‘Save the Albatross’ Campaign is trying to stop the needless slaughter of albatrosses by ensuring that relevant international agreements are implemented that will benefit both the birds and the legal fishing industry. To find out what you can do to help visit our ‘Save the Albatross’ website: http://www.savethealbatross.net

4th July 2014