Seabirds getting hooked

Cormorant hooked by fishing line

A hooked cormorant on the dock in Ft. Lauderdale. Photo by Mark Ivey

Spotted on the dock in Ft. Lauderdale a cormorant that got hooked by his potential meal. It looks like the cormorant was a victim of either a baited fishing line being cut free or longline fishing. Sadly longline fishing kill an estimated 300,000 seabirds every year.  Fishing with hook and line gear or having faster sinking longlines are two changes that the fishing industry can take to prevent hooking birds.Recreational fisherman should always avoid cutting lines and make sure they don't leave behind any spare hooks or line on shore. Also having regular shoreline clean ups can help reduce fishing line that often washes up on shore, saving bare feet and wildlife.

If you are not a fisherman you can still make a big difference by eating sustainable seafood. Asking questions about how your fish was caught allows you to support fisheries that don't use longlines. For example, with regards to eating Mahi Mahi, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Guide notes: "Commercial fishermen primarily use longlines and hook-and-line gear to catch mahi mahi. There is considerable concern about bycatch from longlining as sea turtles, seabirds, sharks and marine mammals get caught or entangled, often resulting in injury or death. Fisheries using hook-and-line gear (such as troll, pole-and-line, or handline), catch little to no bycatch and are more sustainable."

To learn more about Seabirds and the problems they face visit BirdLife International. Special thanks to Mark Ivey for sending the photo, and helping draw attention to this important topic!