Bronwyn Maree was one of the nominees for the Future For Nature Award 2013 and an actual winner of 2014. How nice. Please have a look at the blog of Bronwyn Maree and read about her work below. A video can be found here.
“My approach with albatross conservation in the Albatross Task Force (ATF) in South Africa is to use this amazing, iconic species to inspire fishing industries to change. When they understand the unintended consequences of fishing mortality on albatross populations, all stakeholders (fishermen, local community members, government managers and senior corporate executives), realize that they are impacting an entire ecosystem. Then the step to adopting a more holistic, ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management is a small and relatively easy step to take. Once that has been achieved at scale, real change is catalyzed.
In 2006, the Albatross Task Force was established as the world’s only international team of instructors working directly with fishermen. Now active in eight countries, they fill a critical gap in translating knowledge of seabird bycatch mitigation into changed fishing practices. My very successful team continues to achieve landmark conservation outcomes of global significance. Since implementing ATF-recommended measures, seabird mortalities have decreased by an amazing 75-95% in target fleets, resulting in tens of thousands of vulnerable, endangered and critically endangered seabirds being saved each year.
My goal now is to continue testing new mitigation technologies. The “hook pod” is such a mitigation measure. Hook pods work by ensuring that the tip and barb of hooks are covered during setting operations. Nothing can get caught until the pressure-activated pod opens and the baited hooks are released at a depth beyond seabirds’ diving capabilities. Hook pods, therefore, have the potential to reduce or eliminate seabird bycatch in tuna longline fishing and could render other mitigation measures unnecessary.
My vision is to combine the South African ATF approaches with the innate respect that fishermen have for seabirds, and to bring about change not only in domestic fleets but also in Asian fishing fleets. We can inspire fishermen to trust our motive, which is not to end fishing. Fishermen who have used or seen hook pods instantly recognize the technological solutions to bycatch that they represent. They become inspired. With a successful trial in an Asian fleet, these solutions can be taken to the international stage”.
“This is a solution-based project that has the potential to save the lives of hundreds of seabirds, including the endangered enigmatic Albatrosses without impacting the livelihood of fishermen. Bronwyn’s project has technological ingenuity, conservation implication and livelihood sensitivity.” – 2014, Vivek Menon, International Selection Committee