MALDIVES - The Maldivian pole-and-line tuna fishers have begun a comprehensive experimental trial of an on-board bird tracking radar in an attempt to improve efficiency of one-by-one tuna fishing boats.
Radar can be used to locate flocks of seabirds on the distant horizon. Furuno, the marine electronics company developed the world’s first bird radar in 1986. But it has not yet been widely applied across all pole-and-line fisheries.
The International Pole & Line Foundation (IPNLF) has teamed up with Furuno USA for the three-month trial programme. As well as providing all the equipment for the trial, Furuno USA has given the crew all the necessary training and advice needed to locate seabirds via radar.
The crew are gathering data to establish whether the bird-tracking radar makes a significant difference in efficiency. John Burton, Chairman of IPNLF, is looking forward to reviewing the progress made during the trial’s first month.
“For centuries, Maldivian vessel skippers have used seabirds to pinpoint the location of tuna schools, this process alone can take fishing crews several hours at sea. Our hope is that radar technology will reduce the time and resources spent seeking out fishing opportunities," said Mr Burton.
He continues: “If the equipment trial on this vessel is successful, these systems could prove invaluable tools for one-by-one tuna fisheries in other locations. This sector is vital to the economy and culture of coastal communities, so it’s imperative we explore every avenue to continue to provide jobs, food and development opportunities for future generations.”
The low environmental impact of pole-and-line fisheries is well known, and on the very rare occasions when seabird entanglements occur in these types of fisheries, they can usually be extricated and released alive.
IPNLF is looking to ensure that demand for one-by-one caught tuna can be met without compromising the sustainability of the fisheries, while at the same time providing much-needed support for fishing communities who are heavily reliant upon those stocks.
TheFishSite News Desk