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Cheap Streamers Could Save

According to Science News reporter S. Milius, a recent , large study conducted by the Washington Sea Grant Program in Seattle (federally funded) has shown that attaching fluttering streamers to the trail lines of desermal longline fishing boats (which trail lines of baited hooks to the depths of such species as cod and halibut) can save seabirds and the US fishing fleet the high costs of accidentally killing endangered species.1)

Seabirds like the very rare short-tailed albatross are snagged by hooks on trail lines behind fishing boats. They could be saved by streamers trailing from the boat.

In this case, the bird at risk from hooks, besides common seabirds, is the short-tailed albatross whose continued existence hangs on a wing and a prayer. Once the most numerous albatross off our Pacific coast, depredations for plumage at its breeding grounds off Japan, nearly annihilated it. A few hundred now nest on Torishima Island, Japan, and they have recently been sighted again off our coastline, in the northern Pacific, Alaskan waters. Like the Whooping Crane, to lose even a few is a catastrophe and may require federal intervention.

Birds Lunge for Bait on Hooks

as well as waste behind the longline fishing boats. On-water tests show the streamer system cuts the accidental deaths by 94% and cost about $150 to outfit a boat. This is cheap, but until it's required of US vessels, as one co-investigator put it, she dreams that some philanthropist will one day recognize the bang for the buck and buy these devices for boats around the world.2
  1. S.Milius, "Streamers Could Save Birds From Hooks," Science News, Vol.160 (August 25,2001): 117.
  2. Ibid.
  3. National Geographic Society, Field Guide to the Birds of North America, Shirley L. Scott, editor, Second Edition (Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 1988), 25.