Many seabird populations are rapidly declining and are threatened with extinction. They face a wide range of threats, both on land and at sea, including being killed as bycatch in longline and trawl fisheries, predation and habitat loss. Global solutions are needed to protect seabirds that spend much of their lives travelling vast distances across international waters.
To help make these fisheries seabird safe Amerro Engineering (Queensland, Australia) and the Australian Antarctic Division have developed a new technology, called the underwater bait setter.
The underwater setter is a stern-mounted hydraulically-driven device that delivers baited hooks underwater to avoid detection by seabirds. It comprises components that are fixed to the vessel and a component (a capsule that holds the baited hook) that freefalls in the water column each time a hook is set. This design is the most fuel efficient method of delivering baited hooks at required depths underwater because it minimises the drag associated with devices that remain underwater while setting.
Albatrosses should be free to circle the globe for millions of years to come – we must stop this needless slaughter now to prevent an entire branch being torn from the evolutionary tree.
Sir David Attenborough, broadcaster and naturalist
Photo: Herma van Gerner