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Purse seine bycatch mitigation measure among the best 500 environmental initiatives in Latin America

Cristián G. Suazo, July 23, 2018

Purse seine and seabird bycatch

In 2013, the Albatross Task Force in Chile (ATF-Chile) started characterizing seabird bycatch in the small-scale purse seine fleet and developing novel mitigation measures for the fishery: the Modified Purse Seine (MPS) as a measure to reduce seabird entanglement in purse seine nets.

Supported by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation NFWF and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds RSPB, field experiments comparing real-time sets with MPS and unmodified control nets showed a seabird bycatch reduction of 98% by entanglement in structures of fishing gear (e.g. reduction of the excess of netting material, modification of buoy mounting system).

The development of MPS as an alternative to reduce seabird bycatch in purse seine fisheries includes plunge and pursuit diving seabird species. Among these, Peruvian pelican Pelecanus thagus, Peruvian booby Sula variegata, pink-footed shearwater Ardenna creatopus, and Sooty shearwater A. grisea describing a hotspot of negative interaction between Arica (18º S) and Valdivia (39º S) in the Humbolt Current System.

Premios Latinoamérica Verde - Latin American Green Awards

Since 2015, Premios Latinoamérica Verde has handed out awards to the best 500 environmental projects in Latin America, within the categories of Energy, Forests and Flora, Sustainable cities, Waste management, and Human development, inclusion and equality.

This 2018, 2,733 projects were assessed from 38 different countries. Currently, the projects nominated for this year included initiatives from Latin America, Canada, USA, and Spain. Among these, the top 500 are to be selected by a committee of 150 experts from 20 countries.

The MPS has been selected in the Oceans category as a unique contribution addressing fisheries bycatch. An important recognition for the collaborative work amongst Chilean fishermen associations, fishing gear manufacturers, and seabird scientists.

A joint effort from South America which was also presented during the purse seine special paper session in the past Pacific Seabird Group 45th Annual Meeting held in La Paz, Mexico.

This Green Award is a special opportunity for the issue of seabird bycatch and mitigation measures to be included in a continent-wide agenda for environmental solutions.

Further information about the MPS project in Chile, please contact twitter @ATF_Chile and/or e-mail (Cristián G. Suazo, ATF-Chile coordination).

With thanks to Jo Smith for supporting the edition of this note.