Fish Tales – Episode 6: Alvidas and Viktoras from Lithuania

Alvidas Kazlauskas © Julius Morkunas

Be a fisherman and take care of nature in Lithuania

«My name is Alvidas. I live in lithuania. I am 72 years old and have been a fisherman for over 50 years. »

Whenever I go fishing, I always notice sea birds flying around. I love to watch them, especially sea ducks.

Unfortunately, we also see birds such as guillemots, great crested grebes and cormorants in our traps in the lagoon, especially in summer. If we find them, we’ll do our best to set them free, even if it takes some time. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s just too late and they drown …

This is terrible because as much as I believe that every animal must be preserved, and I would never intentionally harm them. Finding a solution to bycatch is very difficult – catching unwanted animals while fishing. The appearance of seabirds is difficult to predict, sometimes weeks go by without seeing birds, and sometimes we find some of them drowned in our nets. I don’t see any feasible way to avoid this … In all honesty, I doubt there is any way to counter the bycatch.

«My name is Viktoras. I am a fisherman and I live in Lithuania. »

One of my favorite parts about fishing is seeing beautiful sea birds fly, especially in spring when the sea is calm. I love all seabird species … except for one, the great cormorant.

We rarely catch sea birds when fishing. For example, only one bird has been caught in our nets this year. But at some point, when we find one, we untangle it and put it back into the sea. When they are dead, we unfortunately give them to the ornithologists.

For me it is important to protect seabirds from bycatch. That is why we work hand in hand with ornithologists who help us develop practices to avoid this problem as much as possible. But in practical terms, I don’t think it’s possible to find the perfect solution to prevent birds from getting caught in our nets. Even so, we are open to whatever specialists like BirdLife have to offer to find a way to protect both seabirds and our work.

Viktoras and Alvidas worked with LOD (BirdLife partner in Lithuania) to collect data on bycatch of seabirds. This information can be used by the Lithuanian government to inform the introduction and implementation of more effective management measures to ensure the coexistence of fisheries and marine life.

Untangling the net: combating bycatch of birds in the Baltic gillnet fishery

This fish story is brought to you by the Baltic Sea Conservation Foundation funded project Untangling the net: Combating bycatch of birds in the Baltic gillnet fishery. The project is collecting data on bycatch of seabirds in the Lithuanian coastal fleet and in the Curonian Lagoon to better understand the problem, developing mitigation measures for gillnets and testing them with participating fishermen to determine their effectiveness in reducing bycatch. She is also working to raise awareness among decision makers and improve fisheries policy and measures in Lithuania.

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