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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New Zealand’s new resource for seabird mitigation measures is now on line

New Zealand’s Department of Conservation has released an on-line resource for mitigation measures for seabirds that are specific to surface and bottom longline, trawl, net and recreational fisheries.  Individual mitigation techniques for seabirds (e.g. deployment of bird-scaring lines; bird bafflers, discard management, sink rates, night setting, avoiding ‘ghost fishing’ from lost or discarded nets and lines, etc.) are described by short video clips with spoken commentaries.  More information is given in downloadable “circulars” that give specifications for bird-scaring lines and details for the other mitigation methods.

Also included in the new resource are Protected Species Identification Guides, including for seabirds, and a guide detailing best- practice methods for handling and treatment of protected species.  The latter document is available in a total of six languages spoken by important fishing nations.


A baffler in use keeping albatross at bay

With thanks to Graham Parker.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 26 October 2019

BirdLife South Africa to celebrate World Albatross Day and its “Eradicating Island Pests” theme in 2020

BirdLife South Africa is a 5000-member environmental NGO that is the country’s partner of BirdLife International.  Its mission is to strive to conserve birds, their habitats and biodiversity through scientifically-based programmes, through supporting the sustainable and equitable use of natural resources and by encouraging people to enjoy and value nature.

Residing within BirdLife South Africa’s structure is its Seabird Conservation Programme with a Cape Town-based team of six led by Alistair McInnes.  Its work includes preventing bycatch of seabirds in fisheries via its involvement with BirdLife International’s Albatross Task Force (led by Andrea Angel), protecting endangered coastal seabirds (notably the globally Endangered African Penguin Spheniscus demersus), and the Marion Island mouse eradication project.

Scalped! A Grey-headed Albatross chick on Marion Island will not survive the overnight attacks by mice, photograph from the FitzPatrick Institute

Mice were inadvertently introduced to Marion Island during the 1900s, and have since wreaked havoc on the island’s ecosystem (click here).  BirdLife South Africa is supporting the South African Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) to launch an island restoration project, which will aim to rid the island of mice.  To this end the NGO operates a “Mouse Free Marion” website that is collecting funds via a “sponsor a hectare” campaign.

BirdLife South Africa’s Chief Executive Officer, Mark Anderson writes to ACAP Latest News in support of World Albatross Day: “Sixteen species of albatrosses occur in South Africa’s waters, all of which are listed in the regional and global Red Data Lists.  BirdLife South Africa and its Albatross Task Force have contributed towards their survival by reducing albatross mortalities in the trawl fishery by 99%, from an estimated 9000 to less than 100 killed a year.  As we prepare to celebrate World Albatross Day on 19 June 2020 (with the theme “Eliminating Island Pests”), we are committing to the restoration of Marion Island and the conservation of four iconic albatross species which breed on this sub-Antarctic island, including one fifth of the global population of Wandering Albatrosses that breed there.”

Mark Anderson, CEO, BirdLife South Africa

With thanks to Mark Anderson, Andrea Angel and Alistair McInnes.

Selected References:

Dilley, B.J., Schoombie, S., Schoombie, J. & Ryan, P.G. 2015.  ‘Scalping’ of albatross fledglings by introduced mice spreads rapidly at Marion Island.  Antarctic Science 28: 73-80.

Jones, M.G.W. & Ryan, P.G. 2010.  Evidence of mouse attacks on albatross chicks on sub-Antarctic Marion Island.  Antarctic Science 22: 39-42.

Maree, B.A., Wanless, R.M., Fairweather, T.P., Sullivan, B.J. & Yates, O. 2014.  Significant reductions in mortality of threatened seabirds in a South African trawl fishery.  Animal Conservation 17: 520-529.

Parkes, J. 2014.  Eradication of House Mice Mus musculus from Marion Island: a Review of Feasibility, Constraints and Risks.  In: Wanless, R.M. (Ed.).  BirdLife South Africa Occasional Report Series No. 1.  Johannesburg: BirdLife South Africa.  27 pp.

Preston, G.R., B.J. Dilley, J. Cooper, J. Beaumont, L.F. Chauke, S. L. Chown, N. Devanunthan, M. Dopolo, L. Fikizolo, J. Heine, S. Henderson, C.A. Jacobs, F. Johnson, J. Kelly, A.B. Makhado, C. Marais, J. Maroga, M. Mayekiso, G. McClelland, J. Mphepya, D. Muir, N. Ngcaba, N. Ngcobo, J.P. Parkes, F. Paulsen, S. Schoombie, K. Springer, C. Stringer, H. Valentine, R.M. Wanless & P.G. Ryan 2019. South Africa works towards eradicating introduced house mice from sub-Antarctic Marion Island: the largest island yet attempted for mice.  pp. 40-46.  In: Veitch, C.R., Clout, M.N., Martin, A.R., Russell, J.C. & West, C.J. (Eds).  Island Invasives: Scaling up to meet the Challenge.  Gland, Switzerland: IUCN.  xiv + 734 pp.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 25 October 2019

The 47th Annual Meeting of the Pacific Seabird Group in February 2020 opens for business

The 47th Annual Meeting of the Pacific Seabird Group will be held at the Hilton Portland Downtown in Portland, Oregon, USA over 12-15 February 2020.  The meeting’s theme is “Seabirds: Connecting Land and Sea”; the scientific programme “will be jam packed with cutting edge technology and research that pushes the boundaries”.


Registration, abstract submission, and travel award applications for the 2020 Annual Meeting are now open; deadline for abstracts is 2 December 2019 (click here).

Click here to view the Special Paper Sessions, Symposia, Workshops and Hot Topic Discussions

“Portland has a lot to offer. This year’s field trips will offer you a chance to see Oregon, mountains to coast. We’re planning locally-inspired food and entertainment at the welcome reception and closing ceremony, and plenty of opportunities to network with colleagues who plan to attend from over a dozen countries.”

With thanks to Rob Suryan, Scientific Program Chair.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 24 October, 2019

Third World Seabird Conference: symposia details now available

The Third World Seabird Conference (WSC3) will be held over 19-23 October 2020 in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.  Information is now available on confirmed conference symposia.

 Detailed information as given on the WCS3 website for two symposia and their convenors that consider seabird- fisheries interactions follows.

Fine scale seabird foraging behavior in relation to fisheries: Henri Weimerskirch & Scott Shaffer

Fisheries are operating worldwide and are attracting many seabird species that feed on offal and baits. But fisheries can induce high mortality rates to attending seabirds because of by-catch, collision or entanglement with gears. For these reasons there is an increasing interest in the study of seabird-fisheries interactions. However there is still much to understand about the factors affecting the fine scale foraging behavior in relation to the presence of boats, especially fishing vessels, and this becomes possible with the miniaturization and development of new loggers. Through a series of empirical studies we will examine the fine scale foraging behavior of seabirds in relation to the presence of vessels obtained by conventional positioning systems such as AIS, VMS and with new bio-logging systems allowing the detection of vessels. The critical questions addressed concern the detection distances, distinction between co occurrence and attendance, the differences between seabird families in the attraction and attendance patterns, the influence of local oceanic conditions on attendance patterns and how attraction to fishing vessels build up over the lifespan of seabirds.

Seabird bycatch in commercial fisheries: Progress and challenges: Rory Crawford, Stephanie Prince, Pamela Michael, Amanda Gladics & Tom Good

Seabird bycatch in fisheries remains the greatest threat to seabirds alongside Invasive Non-Native Species. Solutions are now well-established for trawl and longline fisheries and have been adopted in a number of fisheries to great effect, but broadscale implementation remains a barrier to improving the conservation status of threatened seabirds, perhaps most notably albatrosses. Given the vast at-sea ranges of many seabirds affected by fisheries, these implementation gaps – both in national waters and on the High Seas – need to be addressed as a matter of urgency. As well as shining a light on the success stories (and what has made them successful), this symposium will focus on the outstanding challenges that need to be addressed: from the fundamental basics (how to estimate bycatch levels from often low sampling effort and zero-inflated data) to the balance of ‘carrots’ and ‘sticks’ in achieving broader uptake, to tackling bycatch in other gear types, particularly gillnets and purse seines.

Two other symposia should be of special interest to the conservation of ACAP-listed species.  These are “Outcomes and progress of active seabird restoration projects” and “The threat of marine debris to seabirds: Detangling the demonstrated from the perceived.”

See details for all the confirmed  WCS3 symposia here.

Abstract submissions close on 30 November; anticipated decision date is 16 March 2020.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 23 October 2019

Qual Albatroz! World Albatross Day cartoons are now available in all three ACAP languages

Marc Parchow Figueiredo, a cartoonist residing in Portugal, has previously drawn special cartoons featuring his iconic Qual Albatroz birds to mark ACAP events (click here).  At ACAP’s request he has also produced a three-panel series to mark next year’s inauguration of World Albatross Day (click here for the English version).

Versions of Marc’s ‘WAD cartoons’ are now available in French (translated by Maëlle Connan) and Spanish (translated by Verónica López) as shown below.




International Cat Day referred to in the cartoons falls on 8 August (click here).

Currently, ACAP’s work to raise awareness of World Albatross Day is undertaken on a zero budget.  Thanks then to the Antarctic Legacy of South Africa for donating a coffee-table book on the sub-Antarctic Prince Edward Islands to send to Marc as a small token of his valued contributions to the conservation of albatrosses, which include sending signed prints of the original WAD cartoons with English text to ACAP.

March Parchow, wearing a Qual Albatroz T-shirt, holds up the Marion and Prince Edward Islands book

Marc has also produced his WAD cartoons in his home language of Portuguese.  Although not an official ACAP language - as are French and Spanish - it is the one spoken in Brazil, which has been an active Party to ACAP since December 2008.  Additionally, Portugal is a range state for the ACAP-listed and Critically Endangered Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus, as birds on migration enter Portuguese waters - where they have been reported being killed by both purse seines and set nets (click here).

With thanks to Maëlle Connan, Marc Parchow Figueiredo and Verónica López.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 22 October 2019

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