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How Aussie fishermen are protecting sea birds


It is easy to get caught up in the headlines of negative environmental press and feel like locking oneself in a dark room. Rarely do we hear about the small wins of locals that stand to make a positive and significant long term contribution to the environment and it’s animals.

This week we caught up with Vince Bagnato one of many Australian fishermen who have taken on the responsibility of preventing and reducing the injury or death of seabirds when they collide with fishing trawler warps (wires used to tow nets).

Vince shows me around his boat ‘The Francesca’ proudly displaying the Bird Baffler structure that is attached to the perimeter of the boat a curtain with swinging tubing preventing birds flying towards the cables. The Baffler is proven to prevent seabirds colliding with warps as they chase offal from fish processing that is released from the side of the boat.

Vince and other SETFIA members resolved that the entire fleet would use bafflers by May 1st, the start of the new fishing year, this year. SETFIA’s noble purpose if that sustainable fishing practices protect their fishing future and Vince explains that using bafflers is walking this talk.

Previously, when birds flew towards the fish pen shoot to feed they could become entangled, injured or killed by warp cables. Their wings could become tangled on warps and then dragged under water resulting death or injury.
A variety of seabirds were at risk but most interactions are with albatross species predominately the shy Albatross.

However, this innovation “is proven to reduce interactions by 96%” Vince says he couldn’t believe how well it had worked as the birds completely stay away now.

“I’m very happy that my bird Baffler has worked so well, no one wants to have bird’s dying because of their boat wires it’s very satisfying to know I can prevent it” Say’s Vince

vince-bagnato
Vince Bagnato

So how did we get to this point?

The fishing industry are always looking for new and innovative ways to improve fisheries management, including reducing bycatch in Commonwealth managed fisheries.

“We are grateful to the Australian Government who provided funding to develop and trial bafflers and with AFMA’s help we will have these improved devices on all Commonwealth managed trawl vessels,” Mr Boag said (SETFIA Executive Officer)

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Baffled Sea Birds

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