Albatross Against Illegal Fishing Vessels
We read this article today about an organization name “Ocean Sentinel” that has specially equipped a fleet of 170 albatrosses with radar instruments used to detect potential illegal fishing vessels!
Over six months they monitored more than 47 million square kilometers of the Southern Ocean, looking for vessels not using an automatic identification system (AIS).
In the oceans, the surveillance of fisheries is complex and inadequate, such that quantifying and locating non-declared and illegal fisheries is persistently problematic. Given that these activities dramatically impact oceanic ecosystems, through over exploitation of fish stocks and bycatch of threatened species, innovative ways to monitor the oceans are urgently required. Here, we describe a concept of “Ocean Sentinel” using animals equipped with state-of-the-art loggers which monitor fisheries in remote areas. Albatrosses fitted with loggers detecting and locating the presence of vessels and transmitting the information immediately to authorities allowed an estimation of the proportion of non-declared fishing vessels operating in national and international waters of the Southern Ocean.
Ocean Sentinel was also able to provide unprecedented information on the attraction of seabirds to vessels, giving access to crucial information for risk-assessment plans of threatened species. Attraction differed between species, age, and vessel activity. Fishing vessels attracted more birds than other vessels, and juveniles both encountered fewer vessels and showed a lower attraction to vessels than adults.
More information on the study: https://www.pnas.org/content/117/6/3006