All the industrial activities involve certain side effects in the environment. Fisheries is one of them and it provokes an environmental impact that must be corrected. Fishing vessels owners and their associations are aware of the problem as well as most of society and a long time ago, they started and promoted initiatives to ease and reduce the effects in coordination with the business goals of their economic sector.
One of the undesirable collateral damages affecting the fishing vessels, especially trawlers and seiners, is the incidental seabird bycatch. This happens from the beginning but with a minor effect over seabird populations because the situation was still good as the global pressure of humans was not significant. However, these populations have decreased dramatically over the last 30 years, having an effect on the most abundant and the less frequent species. The consequence is that many of them, which used to be numerous, are now regarded as endangered species. It must be remarked that this significant decrease is just partially blamed on fisheries and on a set of factors determined by the anthropogenic pressure such as climatic change, habitat loss, environmental toxins, reduction in the population’s dynamics and so on.
The ESPANTAVES Project, leaded by ARVI- Cooperativa de Armadores del Puerto de Vigo (Ship Owners Cooperative of the Fishing Port of Vigo), is completely fit within this problem. Listening to the opinions and needs of its partners together with the opinions from the association itself ARVI has fostered this initiative to undertake the problem and reduce the mortality of species. In this way, the aim and intention of the project go in line with the Reykjavik declaration on Responsible Fisheries in the Marine Ecosystem supported by FAO in 2001. It reflected internationally the side effect of fisheries and meant a milestone in the fisheries administration recommending an integral ecosystem management that took into consideration not only the target species but also the bycatch of non-target fishes. In this context, the most critical preservation problem that seabirds face is the mortality caused by the bycatch in commercial longline and trawling fisheries.
The project is also linked to the International Plan of Action for Reducing Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries (IPOA-Seabirds) supported by FAO in 1998. In both cases, they have a volunteer nature and have been developed in the framework of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. The second one is applicable only to longline fisheries while the Reykjavik declaration applies to any fishery. Anyway, both international agreements show exactly the significance of the problem.