Fish Bait Chutes Finally Makes it into the News North of the Equator

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Fish Bait Chutes Finally Makes it into the News North of the Equator
From: Laurie&Leanne Knight <>
Date: Tue, 26 Mar 2002 22:58:05 +1000
Well the news may not have reached old Tones in the far flung colony of South
Aus, but another one bites the dust ...

Anyhow, for those of you who don't follow the sporting news, an item documenting
the trial of some old Antipodean technology in unmetricated waters ...


Underwater Fishing Device is Found to Drastically Reduce Bycatch

Honolulu, Hawaii, March 20, 2002 - Today, the National Audubon Society announced
that new device which keeps fish bait and hooks out of sight of birds will
greatly help avoid seabird mortality in the Hawaii tuna longline fishery. The
equipment, called an underwater chute, enables longline fishing vessels to catch
tuna and swordfish without killing the thousands of albatross that get caught on
baited hooks and drown each year.

First developed in 1995, the underwater setting chute releases baited hooks
underwater, out of sight and reach of these diving seabirds. It has been tested
in New Zealand, and is currently undergoing trials in Australia's tuna longline
fisheries. Trials were completed off the coast of Hawaii last week.

"Preliminary analysis of the research data indicates the chute was significantly
more effective at avoiding seabird deaths when compared to a control of setting
under normal tuna fishing practices," said Eric Gilman, project manager for the
trial of the chute and Pacific representative for Audubon's Living Oceans 

Of the man-made and natural threats to seabirds, one of the most critical global
problems is incidental mortality in longline fisheries. Birds most at risk from
death in Hawaii's and other North Pacific longline fisheries are petrels and
albatross, including the Short-tailed, Black-Footed and Laysan albatrosses. The
birds get hooked or entangled when gear is being set and are dragged underwater
and drown as the fishing gear sinks.

The results of last week?s Trial indicate when setting under control conditions
without the underwater setting chute, seabirds contacted 6.5% of baited hooks
set, resulting in the mortality of 24 seabirds. When setting with the chute,
seabirds contacted 0.2% of baited hooks set, and no birds were caught or killed.
"This project demonstrates that collaboration between an environmental NGO,
fishing industry, and government management authority is effective and should
serve as a model for future efforts," continued Audubon?s Gilman. 

According to Jim Cook, owner of the fishing vessel Katy Mary and representative
of the Hawaii Longline Association, "the data indicate that the chute is
effective at avoiding seabird interactions with longline gear in the Hawaii
fleet. And, equally important, the longline industry is likely to support use of
the chute, as it promises to save fishers money by reducing bait loss, and does
not require significant alteration of normal fishing practices."

Project partners include the National Audubon Society, Hawaii Longline
Association; US National Marine Fisheries Service; Albi Save, an
Australian-based company that manufactures the chute; and the captain and crew
of the Katy Mary, a Hawaii longline fishing vessel. The U.S. National Marine
Fisheries Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Western Pacific Fishery
Management Council, and National Audubon Society?s Living Oceans Program
provided financial support.

"Based on a preliminary review of the data, the chute promises to resolve
seabird bycatch problems in the Hawaii tuna fishery, and if the Hawaii swordfish
fishery (closed in 1999 due to concerns over sea turtle mortality) resolves
their turtle bycatch problem and is allowed to resume, the chute will likely be
effective at avoiding seabirds in this fishery as well." Continued Gilman.
"Management authorities need to provide incentives for industry to continue
commercial demonstrations of the chute to augment stakeholder ownership for its
industry-wide use. Managers also need to conduct a directed experiment to test
the effectiveness of currently required seabird deterrent measures, which were
observed to be ineffective during the chute experiment."

Gilman will work with Dr. Chris Boggs of the National Marine Fisheries Service,
Nigel Brothers, an Australian biologist who collected data for the at-sea trial
of the chute, and captain Jerry Ray and crew of the Katy Mary, to write a final
report for
the experiment.
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