Together with Andrew Cleave and Rob Read I am involved with Bird Photographer of the Year, the International photographic competition that celebrates the artistry of bird photography and promotes conservation causes. With the awards ceremony, hosted by Chris Packham, due to take place at this year’s Birdfair on 17 August, this is a timely story of our support for one such cause: Hookpod.
As naturalists, photographers and conservationists, the Bird Photographer of the Year (BPOTY) team sees firsthand the mounting pressures on bird populations around the World. If bird photography is going to thrive and not become metaphorically speaking a dying art we must all do our bit to reverse the decline of bird species and support conservation efforts. Donating money is one thing, but World class imagery has the potential to inspire people around the globe to care, and maybe shame some into action.
Over the course of BPOTY’s history it has given more than £5,000 to the British Trust for Ornithology to help with conservation research. However, we all know that the problem is global so we are spreading our wings. So for 2019 competition cycle (which completes when Chris Packham hosts the awards ceremony at this year’s Birdfair) we are proud to be are supporting Hookpod and have given the organisation £500 to kickstart the relationship; we are also inviting BPOTY community members to help via the BPOTY website.
Above: Northern Royal Albatross, a stunning seabird with a 3-3.5 metre wingspan. Paul Sterry/Nature Photographers Ltd
Being the ultimate challenge for any bird photographer, seabirds at sea are a particular passion of ours. But an estimated 320,000 seabirds are reckoned to be unintentionally hooked and killed each year by fishing activities, of which 100,000 are albatrosses; this is sometimes referred to by the sanitised euphemism ‘bycatch’. For anyone who does not know, Hookpod is an innovative hook solution that has the potential to eliminate the unnecessary deaths of albatrosses and other seabirds killed as a result of longline fishing.
Above: Buller’s Albatross is one of the smaller (relatively speaking) mollymawk albatrosses, an adept and aerobatic master of the southern Oceans.
To find out more about the work of Hookpod and how to ‘Sponsor a Hookpod and save an Albatross’, visit www.hookpod.com But don’t just take Hookpod’s word for it or BPOTY’s. Here are what luminaries in the conservation world have to say about this remarkable invention:
‘Every day, hundreds of albatross die in longline fisheries. But there is a unique and exciting new solution to halt this. It’s called a Hookpod. Hookpods stop birds getting caught as they dive for baits. They are effective, easy to use, safe and economic for fishermen. If every pelagic longline fishing fleet used Hookpods, I believe we can stop the accidental death of these magnificent ocean wanderers.’ Sir David Attenborough
‘What an ingenious and timely idea! Hookpod is delightfully simple – and it really works. Albatrosses need all the help they can get and – if we can get this inspiring invention adopted by every longline fishing vessel – I believe there is hope that the future of these iconic seabirds may not be as bleak as it once was.’ Mark Carwardine
Above: Chatham Island Albatross at sunset. Paul Sterry/Nature Photographers Ltd
Some thoughts from Hookpod’s Chief Executive
‘Albatrosses are without doubt masters of the seas and skies. I have been lucky enough to spend many hours observing them in the Falkland Islands; this inspired me to work for their conservation and protection. Although some people may never get to see these amazing birds in the wild, with the help of BPOTY they can experience their grace and beauty. Hookpod has been supported by many organisations and individuals who have been so inspired. Our aim is that Hookpods will allow these beautiful birds to fly free for future generations of bird lovers and photographers alike.’ Becky Ingham
Above: An Antipodean Albatross (one of the ‘Wandering’ group) making eye contact. Paul Sterry/Nature Photographers Ltd
For more information about the conservation aspirations of BPOTY and Hookpod visit the conservation pages on our website https://www.birdpoty.co.uk/ or come and talk to the team in the BPOTY Exhibition Marquee at Birdfair. And don’t forget to buy the new BPOTY book available online and at Birdfair.
Above: The latest Bird Photographer of the Year book whose publication coincides with Birdfair 2019.