This past week, the LIFE PanPuffinus! project team held three workshops around Malta and Gozo with fishers and stakeholders to discuss seabird conservation and solutions to the threats which the Yelkouan Shearwater and other bird species face at sea.
The fisher community is an important stakeholder for our LIFE PanPuffinus! project since they can provide insight and be the drivers of change for those threats that these beautiful birds face at sea. The team spent time at the different harbours as part of our research and outreach efforts, discussing the project and requesting their support and attendance for these workshops.
The workshops began with a presentation of the project, focusing on the fisheries objectives and results so far. We also introduced the partners, and the work they are doing in their own countries. The team invited the fishers to ask questions and discuss the topics of accidental capture or bycatch, and whether they have experienced this in their time at sea. Having a bird caught on the line or in the nets is a waste of time and money for them but each problem has a solution. The team presented mitigation measures which have been proven to work in different countries and contexts, such as the scary bird, and this was well received by the fishers.
To understand the bycatch importance in Maltese waters, the seabird team need first to assess the size of the problem and fishermen are able to help collecting data on it. The meeting included the presentation of a logbook and how they could help collect data to fill this gap.
In order to facilitate fisher participation, the meetings were held in three main fishing localities in the north and south of Malta and on the sister island of Gozo. Our local partners, the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture were also present for all these meetings and supported the process by providing their own insight and experience. Building relationships amongst local partners and stakeholders is an important part of the project process as it is through co-creation of the solution that impact can be achieved.
By Manya Russo, LIFE PanPuffinus! Project Manager & Marc Schruoffeneger, Seabird Conservation Assistant