Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

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Read about recent developments and findings in procellariiform science and conservation relevant to the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels in ACAP Latest News.

Contact the ACAP Information Officer if you wish to have your news featured.

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Follow ACAP on Facebook: over four thousand others do!

All postings to ACAP Latest News (ALN, commenced 2006) are shared to the Agreement’s Facebook page.  Inaugurated in March 2011 the page has grown steadily in usage over eight years and by this month 4000 individuals had “liked” the page, with currently 4063 following it (note it is possible to follow (and view) Facebook postings without actually liking the page).

A screenshot from ACAP's Facebook page

ALN in the main posts news relating to the biology and conservation of the 31 ACAP-listed species of albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters that face a conservation crisis, as well on the few species, mainly shearwaters, that have been identified as potential candidates for listing, such as the globally Near Threatened Flesh-footed Shearwater Ardenna carneipes (click here).  It also carries news of ACAP’s activities, not only of its own meetings but also of ACAP’s attendance and contributions to other bodies – notably Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs).  In contrast the contents of ACAP’s Facebook page cover a wider field that does the website.  Perhaps most importantly ACAP’s page shares postings from other pages and from websites that cover all tubenose seabirds in the order Procellariiformes, including gadfly petrels, storm petrels, diving petrels, fulmars and prions.  The page also carries news relating to the conservation of tubenose habitats, both on land and at sea.

So the message here is if you not already following ACAP on Facebook, have a look at it and click on “like” and learn more about all the members of your favourite group of birds, the true “pelagics” of the world’s oceans.

Followed by ACAP on Facebook: an Endangered Bermuda Petrel or Cahow Pterodroma cahow gets a data logger, photograph by Nicholas Carlile

Reference:

Cooper, J. & Baker, G.B. 2008.  Identifying candidate species for inclusion within the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels.  Marine Ornithology 36: 1-8.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 18 June 2019

UPDATED. Laysan Albatross eggs commence hatching at Oahu’s new colony at Kahuku Point while the established Ka’ena Point colony continues to grow

UPDATE:   All the six Laysan Albatross eggs laid at Kahuku Point last year hatched, according to Sheldon Plentovich, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Pacific Islands Coastal Program Coordinator, in correspondence with ACAP Latest News: "One chick depredated by a [Small Indian] mongoose [Herpestes javanicus], one died of exposure and accelerated by tropical fire ant [Solenopsis geminata] attacks. Four remaining chicks doing well."  All four chicks were metal and colour banded in late May (click here).

"Dr. Sheldon Plentovich fastens the band on the Laysan albatross's leg while Tim Tybuszewski [Director of Conservation, North Shore Community Land Trust] gently holds the bird in place. Each time a wild animal is handled, the benefit to the animal or species must outweigh the risk associated with handling.

Bird Banding lab permit: 22570.  Photo credit: Alice Terry"

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Last month ACAP Latest News reported on a new colony of Laysan Albatrosses Phoebastria immutabilis (Near Threatened) being established at Kahuku Point on the northern shore of the Hawaiian island of Oahu with six eggs being laid in the current season, following various activities to increase their protection (click here).

Following five years of unsuccessful breeding attempts at the locality, for the first time, two of these nests have downy chicks, hatched on 4 February (click here).

A Kahuku Point Laysan Albatross stands to reveal its downy chick, photograph from Hawaii Marine Animal Reponse

“The coastline at Kahuku Point where the chicks hatched has been under restoration since February 2015, according to the North Shore Community Land Trust, which in 2015 played an instrumental role in helping to preserve 630 acres [255 ha] of open space along five miles [8 km] of coastline between Kahuku Point and Kawela Bay.  Volunteers have worked for year [sic] to stabilize the dunes and remove invasive species at Kahuku Point, one of the few remaining places on Oahu with intact coastal strand habitat … .  They have also worked … to control predators of the birds, primarily mongooses, using humane traps.  Visitors to the area are asked to keep their distance from the albatross, and to make sure their dogs are on a leash. Volunteers are currently monitoring four other Laysan albatross nests nearby, and hope to see more hatchlings … .”

Meanwhile Laysan Albatross numbers at the Kaʻena Point Natural Area Reserve on Oahu, protected by a predator-proof fence, continue to increase.  A total of 106 albatross pairs is reported to have commenced breeding in the current (2018/19) season.  Additionally, the number of Wedge-tailed Shearwater Puffinus pacificus chicks within the reserve has more than tripled in the last seven years (click here).

“The reserve is open to hiking and wildlife viewing, however it is illegal to bring in dogs, even on a leash, as they frighten nesting birds and have caused mass deaths of seabirds in the past.  Visitors should stay on marked trails, properly dispose of trash, and observe wildlife respectfully, from a distance.”

Read more here.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 07 February 2019, updated 17 June 2019

New Zealand considers the Flesh-footed Shearwater for possible nomination to the ACAP list

At the Eleventh Meeting of ACAP’s Advisory Committee (AC11), held in Brazil in May this year, New Zealand reported that based on current listing prioritisation advice and knowledge of shared threats with other ACAP-listed species, it was considering the merit of nominating the globally Near Threatened and Nationally Vulnerable Flesh-footed Shearwater Ardenna carneipes for listing by ACAP.  Flesh-footed Shearwaters are regularly caught as bycatch by commercial fisheries in New Zealand waters.  The species has been previously identified by ACAP as a potential candidate species for such listing (see AC11 Inf 04).

Flesh-footed Shearwater at sea off New Zealand, photograph by Kirk Zufelt

Australia has considered whether the Flesh-footed Shearwater should be listed in its Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act of 1999, following the species' nomination in 2012 (click here).  After an assessment the decision was made in 2014 not to list the species, meaning that a recovery plan would not need to be produced (click here).  Flesh-footed Shearwaters breed on Australia’s Lord Howe Island where they have decreased in numbers (and have been found to ingest large loads of plastic items), as well as on islands elsewhere in the country.  The species also breeds on France’s St Paul Island in the southern Indian Ocean.  Both Australia and France are Parties to ACAP.

Two globally threatened shearwaters, the Critically Endangered Balearic Puffinus mauretanicus and the Vulnerable Pink-footed A. creatopus, have already been listed by ACAP.

Access the AC11 report (see paragraph 14.5 on p. 18) here.

With thanks to Igor Debski.

References:

Baker, G.B. & Wise, B.S. 2005.  The impact of pelagic longline fishing on the Flesh-footed Shearwater Puffinus carneipes in eastern Australia.  Biological Conservation 126: 305-316.

Bond, A.L. & Lavers, J.L. 2015.  Flesh-footed Shearwaters (Puffinus carneipes) in the northeastern Pacific Ocean: summary and synthesis of records from Canada and Alaska.  Canadian Field-Naturalist 129: 263-267.

Cooper, J. & Baker, G.B. 2008.  Identifying candidate species for inclusion within the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels.  Marine Ornithology 36: 1-8.

Jamieson, S.E. & Waugh, S.M. 2015.  An assessment of recent population trends of flesh-footed shearwaters (Puffinus carneipes) breeding in New Zealand.  Notornis 62: 8-13.

Lavers, J.L. 2014.  Population status and threats to Flesh-footed Shearwaters (Puffinus carneipes) in South and Western Australia.  ICES Journal of Marine Science: 72: 316-327.

Lavers, J.L., Bond, A.L. & Hutton, I. 2014.  Plastic ingestion by Flesh-footed Shearwaters (Puffinus carneipes): implications for fledgling body condition and the accumulation of plastic-derived chemicals.  Environmental Pollution 187: 124-129.

Priddel, D., Carlile, N., Fullagar, P., Hutton, I. & O'Neill, L. 2006.  Decline in the distribution and abundance of flesh-footed shearwaters (Puffinus carneipes) on Lord Howe Island, Australia.  Biological Conservation 128: 412-424.

Reid, T., Hindell, M., Lavers, J.L. & Wilcox, C. 2013.  Re-examining mortality sources and population trends in a declining seabird: using Bayesian methods to incorporate existing information and new data.  PLoS ONE 8(4): e58230. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058230.

Taylor, G.A. 2000.  Action plan for seabird conservation in New Zealand, Part B: Non-threatened seabirds. Threatened Species Occasional Publication No. 17.  Wellington: Department of Conservation.  pp. 357-360.

Taylor, G.A. 2013.  Flesh-footed Shearwater.  In: Miskelly, C.M. (Ed.).  New Zealand Birds Online.

Waugh, S.M., Patrick, S.C., Filippi, D.P., Taylor, G.A. & Arnould, J.P.Y. 2016.  Overlap between flesh-footed shearwater Puffinus carneipes foraging areas and commercial fisheries in New Zealand waters.  Marine Ecology Progress Series 551: 249-260.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 17 June 2019

 

ACAP’s Advisory Committee declares a conservation crisis for albatrosses and petrels

The Advisory Committee identified an urgent and continuing conservation crisis for albatrosses and petrels at its Eleventh Meeting (AC11) held in Brazil this May.  Thousands of albatrosses and petrels are continuing to die every year as a result of fisheries operations, notably by longline and trawl vessels.  Despite efforts that have been put into researching and recommending effective mitigation measures to address seabird bycatch in fisheries by ACAP and other bodies, in many instances these were not being implemented or were not being fully implemented.  A lack of compliance with measures adopted by those Regional Fisheries Management Organisations responsible for high-seas tuna fisheries (tuna RFMOs) was identified as a critical issue.

A globally Vulnerable Wandering Albatross Diomedea exulans has drowned after getting caught on a tuna longline hook, photograph by Graham Robertson

The Advisory Committee discussed ways of addressing this crisis, and agreed to seek views on how to enhance ACAP’s engagement with other role players to work constructively together to address the bycatch of albatrosses and petrels by fisheries.  In addition, the committee decided on ways to get its message across more broadly, through a revised communications strategy, engagement with fisheries certification schemes and ongoing refinement and dissemination of ACAP’s best-practice guidelines and advice.

The Eleventh Meeting of ACAP’s Advisory Committee (AC11) was held in Florianópolis, Brazil from 13 to 17 May with Nathan Walker (New Zealand) as Chair and Tatiana Neves (Brazil) as Vice-chair.  AC11 followed meetings of the AC’s Working Groups on Seabird Bycatch (SBWG9) and Population and Conservation Status (PaCSWG5) at the same venue.

AC11 was attended by eight of ACAP’s 13 Parties; observers were present from The Bahamas (for the first time), Canada, Namibia and the United States of America, as well as from Chinese Taipei, an APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum) member economy – also for the first time.  NGOs in attendance were Humane Society International and Projeto Albatroz.  The meeting was opened with a welcome speech by Marilia Marques Guimarães Marini, Head of the Department of Conservation and Species Management, Ministry of the Environment, Brazil.  The 57-page report of the four-day meeting is now available on this website.  Official French and Spanish versions of the report are due to be posted by the end of July.  A second posting to ACAP Latest News will summarize other matters of interest discussed at the Eleventh Advisory Committee meeting.

Christine Bogle, ACAP Executive Secretary, 14 June 2019

Hope still for albatrosses?  A globally Endangered Antipodean Albatross Diomedea antipodensis identified as from the gibsoni subspecies flies towards the rainbow

Photograph by Rohan Clarke

International support to save albatrosses and petrels: Australia and USA scientists donate time-depth recorders to colleagues in Argentina and Brazil

Time-depth recorders (TDRs) were donated by Australian and American scientists to South American colleagues at the Eleventh Meeting of the ACAP Advisory Committee (AC11), held in the Jurerê Internacional region of Florianópolis, Brazil last month.

TDRs are devices originally developed to be placed on diving animals that can also be used to measure the sinking rate of longline branch lines bearing baited hooks.  The donated equipment will aid conservation research aimed at saving albatrosses and petrels by Argentinian researchers and the Brazilian NGO, Projeto Albatroz.

Edward Melvin (Washington Sea Grant, USA) , handed over the TDRs on behalf of himself  and Graham Robertson (formerly Australian Antarctic Division) to the founder and general coordinator of Projeto Albatroz, Tatiana Neves and to Juan Pablo Seco Pon (Institute of Marine and Coastal Research, University of Mar del Plata, Argentina), in the Il Campanario Villagio Resort, where the international meetings were taking place.

 

Juan Pablo Seco Pon, Edward Melvin and Tatiana Neves with the donated TDRs, photograph from Projeto Albatroz

"Because we are initiating research to see how the hook pod mini (click here) works on Brazilian longline vessels, the donated TDRs will be of great value to us," said Tatiana Neves, who is also Vice-chair of the ACAP Advisory Committee.  This will help us find even more relevant results for birds and fishers. "

For the scientific coordinator of Projeto Albatroz, Dimas Gianuca, the TDRs will play an important role in the next studies of the institution.  “They will be used to check the sinking rate of the hooks used on pelagic longlines as well as of hooks in different bottom longline configurations to verify which sink rate offers the least risk of capture to seabirds ".

According to Edward Melvin, the decision to donate the equipment to Project Albatroz came with the end of his academic career. "I and a retired friend have undertaken a lot of work on mitigate catching seabirds," he explains. "At that time, we accumulated equipment that we would like to pass on to other researchers who are on the front line of conservation and we could not think of a better place to donate them than in South America, especially to Brazil and Argentina."

Juan Pablo also highlighted the role of South America in studies of sinking of baits. "We can speak different languages, but there are several types of fisheries we share, as well as several bird species that fly over the South Atlantic and South Pacific. This exchange of research between institutions is very valuable to us and is one of the pillars of this Agreement".

Translated and edited from the original Portuguese article under the heading Doação de equipamentos ajudará Projeto Albatroz em pesquisas em prol da conservação marinha (click here).

With thanks to Ed Melvin and Tatiana Neves.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 13 June 2019

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