UPDATED Lasers trialled to reduce seabird mortality caused by longline fishing

News is in on trials using lasers and acoustics to deter seabirds from baited hooks in the North Atlantic.

“Norway’s Mustad Autoline, together with the Dutch company SaveWave, has developed the SeaBird Saver which uses brand new technology to create bird free zones near fishing vessels.  This new vessel-based laser device helps to keep the birds at distance from the baited lines, as they feel threatened by the laser and the sound unit.  This reduces the chance of being hooked and means that fishermen get more baited hooks in the sea.”

“The trial took place in coastal Icelandic fishing grounds around the Snæfellsnes peninsula, where bird predation in longline fisheries is high.  The trial consisted of five fishing days and five lines set and hauled in total.  Of the five lines, four were used for testing the SeaBird Saver system.  …success … achieved with Northern Fulmars [Fulmarus glacialis], gives good hope that the system should be successful on albatross species as well.”

The SeaBird Saver

The laser unit is expected to be launched in August 2014 with the sound unit being launched at a later stage (click here).

The SeaBird Saver is a vessel-based device that emits both a visual and acoustic stimulus.  “The birds feel threatened by the physical presence of the laser beam and its natural response is to avoid contact and move away.  The sounds, that are intense and intelligent, mix between predatory calls, unnatural sinus [sic] waves and distress cries, that can either scare the birds away altogether, or make them more sceptical to the laser deterrent” (click here).

The system has been designed to be mounted on a rail or other high vantage point onboard and is protected against extreme cold and frost by an internal heating system.  A hand-held system has also been developed (click here).

The SeaBird Saver is sponsored by the European Eurostars project.

With thanks to Justine Shaw for information.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 25 May 2014, updated 6 June 2014

The Agreement on the
Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

ACAP is a multilateral agreement which seeks to conserve listed albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters by coordinating international activity to mitigate known threats to their populations.

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