Threats of Longline Fishing to Global Albatross Diversity
Albatrosses are among the most threatened seabird species. Often entangled in gillnets or hooked while longline ﬁshing gear is being set, albatrosses are affected by ﬁshing. This is assumed to be especially true in cases where illegal longline ﬁshing vessels are involved, as they are less likely to implement the bycatch mitigation measures implemented to reduce the risk of albatrosses being caught on their hooks. This is the assumption that was tested in the current study, which uses environmental criminology as its guiding theoretical framework. Using the spatial units of one-half-degree by one-half-degree longitude/latitude cells, this research examined the patterns of concentration of potentially illegal longlining efforts and their relationships to commercially sought-out and illegally caught (i.e., CRAAVED—concealable, removable, abundant, accessible, valuable, enjoyable, disposable) ﬁsh species concentrations, as well as their effects on the average risk of albatrosses. The results indicated that (a) potentially illegal longlining activity is spatially concentrated; (b) this concentration is exhibited in areas with the highest concentrations of the presence of CRAAVED ﬁsh; and (c) the average risk score of albatrosses, as measured by their International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List status, is signiﬁcantly higher in the areas where illegal longlining vessels are found controlling for the activities of legal longlining vessels. These ﬁndings provide strong grounding that illegal longline ﬁshing poses a particularly serious threat to the survival of albatrosses. These activities, however, are not randomly spread across the vast oceans, but rather are highly spatially concentrated. Therefore, the bird conservation lobby should work closely with regional ﬁsheries management organizations to devise and implement targeted interventions aimed at reducing potential illegal longline ﬁshing, which, in turn, will likely have positive effects on albatrosses.