Samantha Petersen of Birdlife South Africa is one of the coordinators of a project assessing the scale of the by-catch problem in regional longline fisheries and devising simple measures to try and avoid the senseless killing of seabirds, turtles and sharks.
According to Petersen, 19 of 21 species of albatross are threatened with extinction. Although pollution, human disturbance, habitat destruction and introduced predators such as rats and mice all contribute to the desperate plight of the sea birds, it is longline fishing that poses by far the biggest threat to their survival. An estimated 300 000 seabirds die on longline hooks each year.
One of the biggest threats to sea birds are ocean litter. Chemicals and pathogens can poison and kill animals that come in contact with it. “Ocean animals can also die from being entangled in the debris, from ingesting the plastics, and from suffocation. About 267 species have been affected worldwide by floating litter. Ocean litter has negatively affected 86% of all turtle species, 44% of all sea bird species, and 43% of all marine mammals.”
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