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    Entanglement of Antarctic fur seals (Arctocephalus gazella) in man-made debris at Signy Island, South Orkney Islands 1996/97

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    Document Number:
    SC-CAMLR-XVI/BG/07
    Author(s):
    Delegation of the United Kingdom
    Agenda Item(s)
    Abstract

    The results of the first annual survey of entanglement of Antarctic fur seals at Signy Island, South Orkney Islands are reported for the 1996/97 season. Neck collars of man-made debris were seen on 12 seals, all of which were juvenile males. Five entangled seals were observed in an area around Signy Island Research Station where approximately 1.3% of the fur seal population come ashore. It was estimated that the incidence of entanglement was 0.33%. Data are compared with results from a parallel study undertaken at Bird Island (UK), South Georgia in 1996/97. Although synthetic line and packaging bands were the main entangling materials at both sites, a greater proportion of fur seals was entangled in these items at Signy Island (50% and 42% respectively) than at Bird Island (22% and 33% respectively). Severe injury was being caused to 75% of animals at Signy Island (15% at Bird Island) and none was seen to have a neck collar loose enough to come off. Since 1991, 47 entanglements have been reported at Signy Island compared with only 20 entanglements recorded at sites in the South Shetland Islands. However, it is difficult to determine if this is a site specific difference or a product of different observer effort. The prevalence of packaging bands shows that these are still being used and discarded at sea within the Convention area. This is despite the ban by CCAMLR on the use of packaging bands aboard vessels that was brought into force in 1996. The high incidence of synthetic line and fishing net highlights the need for CCAMLR Members to take further steps to ensure that vessels are aware of, and comply with, regulations prohibiting the disposal of debris in the southern ocean.

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