Fishermen encouraged to help preserve the great shearwaters

  • Majestic bird: A great shearwater rests on the ocean. Thousands of the birds will pass Bermuda during the month of May on their way north to cooler waters. But they may be attracted to fishing boat and chum and could get hooked in baited lines while diving. The Bermuda Audubon Society is encouraging local fishermen to be careful when the birds are around

    Majestic bird: A great shearwater rests on the ocean. Thousands of the birds will pass Bermuda during the month of May on their way north to cooler waters. But they may be attracted to fishing boat and chum and could get hooked in baited lines while diving. The Bermuda Audubon Society is encouraging local fishermen to be careful when the birds are around
    (Photo provided by Andrew Dobson)

  • Tragic sight: A dead great shearwater is shown in this photo provided by the Bermuda Audubon Society

    Tragic sight: A dead great shearwater is shown in this photo provided by the Bermuda Audubon Society


Fishermen should protect wildlife this month as seabirds migrate through Bermuda’s waters.

Andrew Dobson, president of the Bermuda Audubon Society, said tens of thousands of great shearwaters pass the island every May as they move to the North Atlantic.

But he said the birds are often attracted to fishing boats and the lure of easy food. Mr Dobson said: “Many are attracted to fishing boats by the chum thrown overboard. They can dive to depths of 60 to 70 feet for food and can easily get hooked on baited lines below the surface and drown.

“More worrying is the reaction some fisherman have to birds around their boat. Rather than marvelling at these magnificent long-distance travellers, many have been killed because they are regarded as a nuisance to the fishing.”

Mr Dobson suggested that fisherman limit the amount of chum they use, or avoid fishing on South Shore altogether when winds are light or the birds are present.

He added: “We certainly don’t want to find dead shearwaters on the beaches as we have done in past years, with obvious signs that they have been killed.

“There are large monetary fines for persons found guilty of killing wild birds or a term of imprisonment.

“We want people to both enjoy their fishing and enjoy the birds.”

Shearwaters are a family of seabirds, with the great shearwater being the most common species spotted in Bermuda. Great shearwaters have a four foot wingspan and breed on islands, including isolated Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic, but spend the rest of their life at sea.

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Published May 11, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated May 11, 2018 at 3:34 am)

Fishermen encouraged to help preserve the great shearwaters

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