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    Entanglement of Antarctic fur seals Arctocephalus gazella in man made debris at Signy Island, South Orkney Islands 1997/98

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    Delegation of the United Kingdom

    The results of the second annual survey of entanglement of Antarctic fur seals at Signy Island, South Orkney Islands are reported for the 1997/98 summer season. There were six sightings of seals wearing neck collars of man-made debris, half the number reported in 1996/97. All of the animals involved were juvenile males, the main component of the population seen at Signy Island at this time of year. The prolonged presence of sea ice around the South Orkney Islands probably accounted for the low number of fur seals in total that came ashore during the season. Data are compared with results from a parallel study undertaken at Bird Island, South Georgia in 1997/98 where the number of reported entanglements had also decreased. At Signy Island, fishing net was the most common entangling material (83%) and had increased in occurrence since the previous season. The percentage of entanglements in packaging bands (17%) had decreased since 1996/97. In contrast, the percentage of animals entangled in packaging bands at Bird Island was higher than in recent years and there was a decrease in the incidence of net fragments forming collars. Severe injury was being caused to 67% of seals with neck collars at Signy Island (nil at Bird Island), a slight drop (8%) from 1996/97. The decrease in observed entanglements is encouraging although the prevalence of packaging bands and 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.