Albatrosses and radar tracking
One of the successful projects will see albatrosses and petrels benefit from further research using ‘bird-borne’ radar devices. Developed by scientists at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), the attached radars will measure how often tracked wandering albatrosses interact with legal and illegal fishing vessels in the south Atlantic to map the areas and times when birds of different age and sex are most susceptible to bycatch – becoming caught up in fishing nets.
The project’s results will be shared with stakeholders to better target bycatch observer programmes, monitor compliance with bycatch mitigation and highlight the impact of bycatch on seabirds.
The UK is a signatory to the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP), part of the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). This agreement has been extremely successful in substantially reducing levels of seabird bycatch in a number of important fisheries where rates have been reduced to virtually zero from levels that were historically concerning.
Professor Richard Phillips, leader of the Higher Predators and Conservation group at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) said:
The British Antarctic Survey is delighted to be awarded this funding from Darwin Plus, which is for a collaboration between BAS and BirdLife International. The project will use a range of technologies – GPS, loggers that record 3-D acceleration and novel radar-detecting tags – to quantify interactions of tracked wandering albatrosses with legal and illegal fishing vessels. The technology will provide much-needed information on the areas and periods of highest bycatch.