American Bird Conservancy
Bird-scaring lines have been shown to be highly effective in preventing seabird mortality caused by longlines. The erratic flapping made by the streamers that hang from the 300 ft. blue steel polyester lines, positioned either side of the longline, scares albatrosses and other seabirds from the baited hooks.
These lines cost only $260 per pair and have been shown to reduce seabird mortality by 92% in preliminary research on Alaskan sablefish longliners in 1999.
In 2000 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service initiated a pilot scheme by which Alaskan fishing vessels could apply for free bird-scaring lines. $400,000 was made available for 450 Alaskan vessels that applied in 2000 and another $450,000 is being provided for 2001.
Much of this money is in the form of matching grants to cover the installation of davits that must be welded onto the stern of the larger longline vessels to hold the ‘tori poles’ that support the bird scaring lines. The grants cover up to 50 percent of the cost of installation with a $5,000 ceiling per boat.
The Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission administers the purchase, assemblage, and distribution of the lines. There are over 2,000 longline vessels eligible for the program.
The reimbursement offer is currently being extended to vessels greater than 100 ft. long and five vessels of this type have used these matching grants so far (at an average total cost of about $7,700).
Letters of intent have been filed by three more.
The project, begun in April 2000, will continue this year with a goal of giving the bird scaring lines to all longline vessels and ensuring that most of the largest longline vessels have an effective means of deploying those lines.
For a description of these lines and the research on mitigation measures in Alaska, see:
For further information please see the “AMERICAN BIRD CONSERVANCY” publication: