Albatross Appeal.With the world's albatross population facing dramatic decline, Falklands Conservation has intensified its appeal to fund its £70,000 (about 100-thousand dollars) survey to find out why and devise measures to halt the trend.
Falklands Conservation Secretary, Ann Brown, reports that a comprehensive Island-wide Albatross census is underway. "So far", she says, " as it is early days, our fears of a decline in the population of black-browed albatross in the Islands seems to be borne out. We are seeking a further £20,000 for this important work to try to discover why, how and where the decline is happening".
The latest issue of Falkland Conservation's magazine, called the Warrah, says there are no clear explanations to account for the thirty per cent fall in numbers over the last 20 years. Two possible causes need investigation: a decrease in the availability of food and an increase in the death of adults and young birds in their first years at sea, which could happen either close to or far from breeding grounds in the Falklands.
The magazine says large scale commercial fisheries operating around the Falkland Islands "may have an adverse impact on albatross populations, either because of incidental mortality or competition for the same food. Black browed albatrosses are vulnerable to long line fishing because they often attempt to feed on baited hooks as they leave the vessel.
Pirate Fishing Kills Many Birds."Although the Falklands fishery is well managed and has a responsible attitude to seabirds, 'native' seabirds do not stay in these waters. 'Pirate' fishing is widespread throughout the Southern Ocean with many illegal and unregulated longliners sailing under flags of convenience which are known to kill huge numbers of seabirds".
Birds die from swallowing plastics and when they swoop down to seize the bait, get hooked, dragged underwater, and drowned. Fatalities can be greatly reduced by weighting the lines properly and flying streamers to frighten off the albatross.
The appeal fund will be used to carry out a full census of the Falkland albatross population, placing identification rings on some of the birds. Diet will be examined to determine the interactions b