Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Fisheries waste insufficient for gannet chicks

A new report from the Royal Society says that gannets who feed their chicks on waste from fishing boats are giving them junk food.

The problem they discovered in the western cape of South Africa was that waste from the hake fisheries was too low in fat to sustain chicks. The gannet's natural food is high fat species like anchovies and sardines, but these species have become seriously depleted. While the waste from the hake helps maintain adult birds, chicks reared on this diet suffer much higher mortality rates than normal and far fewer chicks are fledged.

The full report concludes that

marine management policies should not assume that fishery waste is
generally beneficial to scavenging seabirds and that abundance of this artificial resource will automatically inflate seabird populations.

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