Oceanário and SPEA unite to protect the Balearic Shearwater

The Oceanário de Lisboa financially endorses a programme of SPEA (Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds), which aims to protect the Balearic Shearwater, a seabird classified as “critically endangered”.

Under the LIFE PanPuffinus project, SPEA organized an exchange program for fishermen between Portugal and Malta, which aims to share experiences and encourage fishermen collaboration in projects that seek to reduce incidental catches of seabirds.

By-catch in fishing gears is one of the main threats to seabird conservation. They are attracted to fishing areas in search of food and sometimes get caught in nets or hooks and end up drowning.

The Balearic Shearwater nests on the Balearic Islands in Spain, but during the rest of the year it occurs in Portugal, in the area between Aveiro and Nazaré, where it rests and searches for food.

This project will work directly with the fishing communities of the Aveiro and Nazaré region, with the aim of finding solutions that help these seabirds not to get caught in gillnets and seines.

Besides mitigation measures, there is a set of good practices on board, disseminated by the fishing communities, which significantly reduce the probability of catching seabirds. For example, always clean the nets well, or do not throw fishing waste overboard. Furthermore, it is important to train fishermen to know how to act when they catch live birds.

Information exchanging and collaboration between institutions and the community is essential for biodiversity conservation.