On the Road with Ross May 2017

In early April my colleague Bronwyn Maree and I headed to Hoi An in Vietnam to run the second regional workshop on seabird bycatch. We're trying to build consensus among the key nations that catch lots of seabirds in tuna longline operations that a global review should be undertaken. And then we need to figure out the hows and whys. It's always tricky going into a meeting not knowing if there will be agreement, especially as the first regional workshop (in Kruger Park) laid groundwork but didn't finish the plan. Would that groundwork still be acceptable? Could we get agreement on a final plan? Would the recent significant changes in Japan's structures mean that progress made with that country at the first workshop would be undone?

It turned out that our worries were well founded, but with great planning and by adopting highly strategic stances on key issues we were able to get agreement on all that we'd hoped for. The next step will be to work with individual
countries or pairs of countries to figure out what their data look like and how we'll combine things into a global analysis. There will be more meetings…

Talking about seabirds is easy and I could do it unceasingly for days on end, but talking about BPUEs, standardisation and what 'effectiveness of CMMs' actually means (I'm being deliberately vague – you don't really want to know what those things mean!) is crushingly dull at times. Therefore, as we did at Kruger, we took a break mid-workshop to get some fresh air and give people a chance to recharge their batteries and, importantly, the space to discuss things outside the formal workshop setting. Our 'fresh air' venue was Bach Ma National Park. We were in luck, as the specialist bird guide we'd hoped for had become available unexpectedly! So while most delegates chose to hike to scenic places in the park and get a bit of a history tour, including Vietnam war-era tunnels and structures, a smaller group of us went birding for the day. The species diversity was relatively low – only about 40 – but the quality! Speckle-throated Laughingthrush, Green Magpie, Black Eagle – the list was fabulous. But no, I didn't manage a seabird on the trip list, even though our hotel was on the beach!

Dr Ross Wanless
Seabird Conservation Programme Manager

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