Sea Birds

Who are BirdLife South Africa?

BirdLife South Africa is a registered non-profit and public benefit environmental organisation whose mission is to conserve birds, their habitats and biodiversity through scientifically-based programmes, through supporting the sustainable and equitable use of natural resources and by encouraging people to enjoy and value nature.

Seabird Conservation Programme

BirdLife South Africa’s Seabird Conservation Programme strives to improve the conservation status of South African seabird species through innovative and solution-driven projects. South Africa’s Red Data book lists seabirds as the most threatened bird group: 60 % of the regularly occurring seabird species in South African waters are classified as threatened. Seabirds face numerous threats both at their breeding colonies and at sea. These include incidental mortalities due to interactions with fisheries at sea (known as ‘bycatch’), competition for prey by industrial fisheries, chick and adult mortalities due to invasive predators at their breeding colonies and pollution. 

Critically endangered Tristan Albatross – Photo credit:  Albatross Task Force.  

Specific Project: 

The funds raised through this initiative will go towards supporting the Albatross Task Force team in their efforts to reduce seabird bycatch, currently seen as the most detrimental threat to seabirds at sea.  The Albatross Task force is globally recognised for its successes in reducing seabird bycatch, through the implementation of mitigation measures in fishing fleets. The introduction of bird-scaring-lines on to large South African hake trawl vessels, helped to mitigate seabird collisions with trawl cables and reduced seabird mortality of long-lived species, such as albatrosses by 99%. In 2004, before the uptake of mitigation measures, an estimated 15 000 seabirds were being killed every year in this fleet. 

Hundreds of seabirds at risk of colliding with trawl cables in the absence of mitigation measures – Credit photo Albatross Task Force

These and other bycatch mitigation measures are currently being rolled out by the Albatross Task Force to other fisheries, and the funds raised through bags4good will play an important part in helping achieve this goal.

How will this objective further the project?

Funds raised by this initiative will go towards adapting current seabird bycatch mitigation measures that reduce seabird mortality in target fisheries. It will also support the development of new solutions that monitors compliance with mitigation measures in the absence of observers on fishing vessels. We are currently working with seven fleets including 306 vessels that need different measures to help avoid negative interactions with seabirds.  

Wandering Albatross pursuing a baited hook – Photo credit: Albatross Task Force. 

When was the project initiated?

The Albatross Task force was initiated in 2005 is an ongoing programme working on various projects aimed at significantly reducing seabird bycatch across South African fishing fleets. 

South African trawl vessel with hundreds of seabirds trailing in its wake – Photo credit: Albatross Task Force. 

Principle people involved in implementation of the funds

Mark Anderson – CEO BirdLife South Africa

Alistair McInnes – BirdLife South Africa, Seabird Conservation Programme Manager

Andrea Angel – BirdLife South Africa, Albatross Task Force Leader

How can people get involved in further supporting your project?

By purchasing one of the seabird bags you are already showing your support.

Become a BirdLife South Africa member

Make donations to:

Media and other links


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