Saving seabirds in Seattle: New exchange!

GAP2 Comms Officer, Katrina Borrow, is taking part in one of GAP2’s new international exchanges this September. Read on for her pre-trip reflections, and be sure to follow the exchange on Twitter: @GAP2_Project, #GAP2Exchange

I have been reading and editing exchange blogs since I started working for GAP2 nine 20140219_115537months ago, and now I am lucky enough to be writing one myself: that’s right folks, I’m packing my bags and I’m off on exchange!

Following the success of the first ‘round’ of exchanges that the GAP2 project funded – all designed to help increase knowledge and understanding of participatory research methods or sustainable fishing practices in countries across the EU, and the world – a number of new exchange projects have been granted funds, all to take place in this final seven months of GAP2’s lifespan.

You can read about all of the upcoming exchanges on our website here and, indeed, you can read all about the value of these amazing adventures in a fantastic blog from one of our social scientists, Dr. Marloes Kraan, here.

So, which exchange will I be taking part in, and why?

Well, I am setting off to the Puget Sound – near Seattle in Washington State, USA. I will be accompanying an excellent exchange project: the international conservation consortium Birdlife International has received funding from GAP2 to send their Senior Policy Officer for their Marine Programme, Rory Crawford, and a fisherman from Filey, Rex Harrison, to the Sound to investigate the use of specially designed ‘bird nets’ in mitigating seabird by-catch in gillnet fisheries.

This exchange has come about because Filey fishermen have recently been developing their own methods to help prevent seabird fatalities linked to fishing. This is an incredibly under-researched area of fishing sustainability, and Birdlife wanted to create the opportunity for the pioneering fishers from Filey and Puget Sound to share experiences and develop new ideas together: GAP2 was happy to help!

A key tenet of the work undertaken by GAP2 across Europe is the concept of an ‘ecosystem approach’ to fisheries: an approach taking into account the impact of fishing activities across the entirety of the environment in which they are based. Clearly, this includes wildlife found above the water as well as other marine species, and this exchange is an excellent example of where the ecosystem approach is so vital to underpinning truly sustainable fishing: it can’t continue that 400,000 birds lose their lives in gillnets around the world each year.

Birdlife International has already undertaken some remarkable work in mitigating seabird by-catch in trawl fisheries: with one case study in South Africa producing a 90% reduction in seabird fatalities (and a 99% reduction in Albatross bycatch!) due to successful collaboration with local fishermen, and through gear innovation (you can read more about this fantastic example here).

The charity now hopes to replicate this success in gillnet fisheries, but again: this will require deep-rooted and long-term collaboration with fishers and fishing communities, as well as some new thinking in terms of gear design and deployment.

This exchange is the first step in developing ‘best practice’ for seabird by-catch mitigation in gillnet fisheries, placing the salmon and sea trout fishery in Filey at the forefront of the development of techniques which will have global applications. Exciting stuff.

I will be heading to Seattle with Rory and Rex on Monday 1st September, to document their experiences at the sockeye salmon fishery in the Puget Sound and see, first hand, the value of the fantastic exchange programme GAP2 has been running for the last four years.

Do keep updated on our adventures overseas – I’ll be tweeting whenever I can from @GAP2_Project and @TrinaBorrow, and we’ll all be blogging our socks off on our return.

If you have any questions about this exchange, or the programme in general, then do get in touch:

See you on the other side!


Find out more about Birdlife International at:


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