Dr Carlos Moreno (Universidad Austral de Chile) opened the meeting and welcomed all the participants. He expressed his satisfaction at the large number of participants from nearly all the relevant countries in the region. This showed progress even with respect to the previous meeting, which had been so successful. He was particularly grateful with participants from outside the region, which gave the meeting a truly international flavour and showed the close links between continents, tied up by seabirds crossing the oceans and interacting with fisheries in various regions.
Dr Moreno thanked the two main convenors, BirdLife International and FAO, for the support they provided which made this meeting possible. BirdLife partners in Spain (SEO/Birdlife), in the UK (RSPB) and in The Netherlands (Vogelbescherming Nederland) had provided financial and human resources for the organizational aspects and to pay for travel costs for attendees. FAO's financial and technical support had made it possible that government and industry representatives from key countries, as well as a few reknown experts from other regions, had joined the meeting, providing sound scientific input and fishermen's views and experiences for the common goal of seabird conservation in the context of sustainable fisheries.
In the first talk, Carles Carboneras (SEO/Birdlife) presented an overview of the main news and events that had happened since the previous workshop in September 2001. In that meeting, there had been little involvement of the fishing industry or government authorities but the participation of scientists and other experts had been high. This allowed for a first regional review of the problem of seabird bycatch and the drafting of the South American Strategy for the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ESCAPE). A number of projects, subsequently developed in Argentina, Brazil and Chile, also had their origin in that meeting.
Since 2001, there had been significant progress in Brazil and Argentina, and a number of activities in Chile. Ecuador had ratified Agreement for the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP). Falkland Islands (Malvinas) had completed NPOA-Seabirds for its longline and its trawler fisheries. Peru and Uruguay had been least active but equally supported some initiatives. There had been some exploratory fishing for Dissostichus sp. in both those two countries.
In the international arena, there had been a number of relevant international meetings, including FAO-COFI 25 and IFF-2, the International Fishers' Forum. A new independent coalition, called Southern Seabird Solutions (SSS), had been set up with the continuing support of the Department of Conservation of New Zealand. It focused on the international connections of the conservation of New Zealand seabirds. On another front, BirdLife's work had succeeded in the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) adopting a resolution on seabird bycatch. The Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Living Resources (CCAMLR) had also adopted new resolutions on seabird bycatch avoidance. Other interesting initiatives included a conference on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in Spain, the setting up of the company-based Coalition of Legal Toothfish Operators (COLTO) and actions against pirate fishing in Chile.
Mr Carboneras also reviewed the proposed new structure for the Seabird Programme within BirdLife International, including external collaborations (such as with FAO and SSS) and new linkages in countries like Peru and Brazil. Finally, he went on to present the ESCAPE strategy and proposed a revision of its contents, in order to adapt it to the current needs.