Carol Thatcher travels to the Falklands to the scene of a new battle – to
save the black browed albatross – in the fourth Saving Planet Earth
The albatross is facing a new danger – long line fishing. It uses baited
hooks which can attract diving albatross, as well as fish, and the birds are
dragged under water and drowned. The solution is to encourage fishermen to
use albatross-friendly methods.
Over 20 per cent of the population on Steeple Jackson has been lost in the
past 20 years. Across the world, an albatross is lost every five minutes due
to long line fishing and it is thought that 100,000 birds drown each year.
The problem is compounded by the fact that albatross mate for life and
produce only one egg a year. Ali Liddell, education officer for Falkland
Islands Conservation, explains: "The birds only lay one egg a year. If you
lose one adult bird at sea then that egg will fail, and the partner that's
left will take another three or four years to find another mate and start
the process again."
Carol then travels to Brazil – a journey of 600 miles which the birds fly in
search of food. She meets Tatiana Neves, of the RSPB Albatross Task Force,
and her team who are helping to change the attitudes of some of the toughest
fisherman – and with great results.
But with only seven Task Force officers to police the whole of the southern
ocean, many boats are still to learn about these methods. Seeing a haul of
albatross from one of those boats, Carol comments: "Well, this really is a
very sad haul. Tatiana's campaign has to have more money to spread the
message to educate fishermen."
A £10 donation to the BBC Wildlife Fund could help the RSPB Albatross Task
Force Project pay for the weights that help the fishing hooks sink faster,
before albatross can get to the bait.
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