Albatrosses Pushed Toward Peril by Fishing Fleets

Albatrosses are in trouble. All 21 species of the seabird are at some risk of extinction, and six of the species have suffered notable declines in the last few years, according to a report from the conservation group BirdLife International. The blame goes primarily to longline fishing boats, which use baited hooks on fishing lines that can stretch for 80 miles. Longliners kill an estimated 300,000 seabirds annually, a third of them albatrosses; the birds swallow the baited hooks and either die of resulting injuries or drown. “Longline fishing, especially by pirate vessels, is the single greatest threat to these seabirds,” said BirdLife Director Michael Rands. BirdLife and other green groups are trying to work with fleets to help them adopt more bird-friendly fishing methods.