The recent history of global initiatives to reduce seabird by-catch in longline fisheries are reviewed, highlighting in turn the activities of environmental and industry non-governmental organizations (NGOs), national governments and inter-governmental bodies. At least 40 species of seabirds, especially albatrosses and petrels, are affected, with unsustainable mortality rates in a number leading to population decreases. An International Plan of Action for Reducing Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries, adopted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in June 1999, has much promise for effectively addressing the problem, if nations are willing to develop and implement it. Environmental NGOs and scientists should collaborate with the fishing industry to assist governments (and inter-governmental bodies where appropriate) to implement national plans of action in a way that would solve the problem and thereby keep the World’s seabirds off the hook.
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