Recreational anglers be mindful of Shearwaters when casting out, following reports of dead birds washing up along Victoria’s coastline, the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) is asking.
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DEPI’s Regional Director Port Phillip, Travis Dowling said 'We are at the beginning of the Short-tailed Shearwaters (Ardenna tenuirostris) breeding season following their annual migration from the Bering Sea, between Alaska and Japan, to South-east Australia.'
'Unfortunately the journey is not successful for all the birds and we are currently receiving reports of large numbers of dead and dying Short-tailed Shearwaters from right along the Victorian coast, including in Port Phillip and Corio Bays,' Mr Dowling said.
'In some years the birds arrive underweight and exhausted from their mammoth flight and as a result some die from starvation.'
'As the birds are hungry, there are reports that they are attempting to consume baits of recreational anglers on Port Phillip Bay.'
Dallas D’Silva, Executive Officer of VRFish, said there are a few things recreational anglers can do to minimise interactions with these birds while on the water.
'If hungry Shearwaters are attempting to take your bait, use a slightly heavier sinker to get your bait to the bottom sooner and cast as far away from the birds as possible to reduce the risk of them becoming entangled,' Mr D’Silva said.
'And carry a towel in your boat that can be used to wrap and calm an entangled Shearwater.'
'If you are experienced in handling birds and have protective gloves, you may then be able to disentangle them and set them free.'
Mr Dowling said: 'Anglers and beach goers can also call DEPI on 136 186 or RACV Wildlife Connect on 13 11 11 to be connected to a wildlife carer in their area who will be able to assist.'