October 11, 2007 / 12:25 AM / 12 years ago

Tuna fishing kills endangered birds, sea life-WWF

GENEVA, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Fishhooks meant to catch tuna in the southern Pacific and Indian Oceans are killing endangered seabirds, as well as sharks and turtles, the WWF conservation group said on Thursday.

It estimated up to 13,500 seabirds, including 10,000 albatrosses, were caught every year by long-line fisheries targeting southern bluefin tuna. Most of the fishing vessels were from Japan.

Long-line fishing involves trailing a single line with hundreds or thousands of hooks. WWF said 19 of the 22 species of albatross were classified as threatened with extinction by the World Conservation Union.

"Long-line fleets are fishing blind, with little or no understanding of their devastating impact on threatened species," Simon Cripps, director of WWF’s Global Marine Programme, said in a statement.

The WWF said the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna should take tougher action at an annual meeting in Australia next week to stem over-fishing and protect other wildlife such as sharks, turtles and seabirds.

It said the Commission should demand tougher measures than floating poles meant to scare seabirds away from fishing lines and demand better reporting of wildlife catches apart from tuna.

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