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Tuna Fishermen Told Of Albatross Crisis


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Tuna fishermen told of albatross crisis

An international meeting of southern bluefin tuna fishing nations will be told on Tuesday that the annual bycatch of endangered albatrosses is an ecological disaster.

The Humane Society International (HSI) says 10,000 of the 13,500 seabirds estimated to die every year on longline fishing vessels targeting southern bluefin tuna are species of albatross.

The Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT) is holding its annual meeting in Canberra this week, with countries like Australia, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and Taiwan attending.

HSI spokeswoman Nicola Beynon said the CCSBT management area coincides with the distribution of 17 of the world's 24 albatross species, the world's most endangered group of birds.

The conservation group has observer status at the meeting.

"HSI hopes to be able to address the commission to deliver a warning that they must clean up their fishing practices or end up being responsible for the extinction of some of these magnificent birds," Ms Beynon said in a statement.

"In the last 10 years they have not been able to agree to any new measures to prevent the capture of seabirds on the longlines most of these countries use to target SBT.

"Among other things, HSI will ask that the commission agrees to weight their lines so that their baited hooks sink quickly out of the reach of seabirds, or to set their lines at night."

Ms Beynon said longline fisheries targeting southern bluefin tuna were also suspected to be killing marine turtles and tens of thousands of sharks. The southern bluefin tuna is classified as a critically endangered species.

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