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Careless fishermen charged with causing birds deaths

Date Posted: 2006-01-12

Fishing hooks concealed in discarded bait are causing the deaths of a very important Okinawan bird.

Black face herons are dying in record numbers on Okinawa, largely because fishermen are tossing away old fishing hooks when they finish fishing. The birds, scavenging for food, are feeding on the remnants of fish stuck to the hooks.

The most recent incident this past weekend was at Tomishiro City’s Triangle Pound fishing spot, where a black face heron was found tangled in fishing line. The bird was found by members of the Okinawa Bird Watching Society and taken to a hospital, but it was too late. Veterinarian Junji Takara, who took x-rays of the bird, said it was shocking there were two fishing hooks inside the bird’s chest and lungs. Other fishing lines with hooks were stuck in the bird’s leg. “I feel very sorry and shame about the fishing people,” Junji said. “Fishermen should think about nature, and birds’ lies, and should not trash their hooks, fishing lines, fishing baits and foods.”

Wildlife authorities encouraged fishermen to be more careful with removing trash from the beach or dock areas, making sure there are no fishing hooks. That is the key, they say, to helping birds survive.

Fewer than a thousand herons are believed to be alive worldwide now, and that number is dwindling each year. The birds migrate each year to Okinawa from North Korea and southern China, flying more than 2,000 kilometers to Okinawa to spend the winters.

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