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.

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Hookpod approved for stand-alone mitigation of seabird bycatch in New Zealand

New Zealand’s Ministry of Primary Industries has approved use of the Hookpod to deter albatross and other seabird deaths in pelagic longline fishing as a stand-alone seabird bycatch mitigation measure.

The gazetted regulation (Fisheries (Seabird Mitigation Measures - Surface Longlines) Circular 2019) comes into force on 1o January 2020.  It defines a "hook-shielding device" (such as the Hookpod) as a stand-alone mitigation option that "encases the point and barb of the hook until it reaches a depth of at least 10 m or has been immersed for at least 10 minutes" during line setting.

“The Hookpod is a UK-designed device that is proven to virtually eliminate the bycatch of albatrosses whilst not affecting the target species catch rate of the surface long line fishing industry. The revolutionary device works by covering the point and barb of the hook during line setting, only releasing the hook at a depth of 20 metres, by means of a patented pressure release system, out of the diving depth of albatrosses as well as other seabirds” (click here).

Hookpod NZ

Baited Hookpod - close up

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Baited Hookpod, photograph by Fabiano Peppes

The Hookpod “is reusable, fits onto longline fishing lines above the hook, staying in place throughout its lifetime.  This means it provides effective protection every single time the fishing gear is used, without extra handling or fitting by the crew.  It has been designed to fit a range of fishing gear, line and hook types.  It is [made of] recyclable polycarbonate, contains a built-in weight to help fishing gear sink to depth and will last in standard operations for around 2-3 years. The opening mechanism works by using the increasing depth/pressure to gradually compress a small spring in the central chamber, until a piston is fired to open the device and release the hook".

Read more about Hookpods here, and watch a video clip.

With thanks to Igor Debski.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 26 December 2019

New Zealand’s WAD2020 Banner gets to Campbell Island – but does not come back

Following its first deployment on Proclamation Island in the Bounty Island group by Graham Parker and Kalinka Rexer-Huber of the environmental consultancy Parker Conservation in October, New Zealand’s World Albatross Day (WAD2020) banner travelled to Campbell Island last month with Kalinka and Kevin Parker as part of ACAP’s “banner challenge”.

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Kevin Parker (left) and Kalinka Rexer-Huber with their well-travelled WAD2020 banner "Action for Albatross Conservation!" on Campbell Island

Safely back home, Kalinka has written to ACAP Latest News: “The photo was taken on November 20th by Kevin Parker. It features Kevin at left, myself and goodly numbers of Campbell Thalassarche impavida and Grey-headed T. chrysostoma Albatrosses.  We were doing demographic and tracking work on albatrosses and Northern Giant Petrels Macronectes halli and recovering trackers (GLS) from Southern Royal Albatrosses Diomedea epomophora.  The work was part of Operation Endurance, a collaboration between our New Zealand Department of Conservation [DOC], MetService and the [Royal New Zealand] Navy that was supported by HMNZS Canterbury.

Kalinka explains: “Unfortunately this was the last sighting of the banner.  It is currently marooned on Campbell in a helicopter crate, with rescue unlikely anytime soon”.  Fortunately, Parker Conservation will make a “shiny new replacement” that will first be photographed on Adams Island in the Auckland Island group in the New Year by Kalinka and Graham Parker, and then will then travel with Paul Sagar to the Snares Islands in March.

Kevin has also been in contact over his experience heading south: "The sight of an albatross cruising the high seas always makes me think of surfing and wishing I could also ride waves with such grace, power and simplicity.  Standing next to an albatross colony is a profoundly moving experience and visiting Campbell for the first time was such a privilege.  The high latitudes get under one's skin and stay there forever."

 The expedition was not without its drama.  A DOC conservation dog searching the island for any signs of rodents (a Jack Russell/Fox Terrier cross named Flint) had to be left behind on the island after being scared by a group of subadult male Hooker’s Sea Lions Phocarctos hookeri and running away.  Despite searches it could not be found before the ship made the decision to sail for home due to impending bad weather.  The story ends well though with Flint being found on the island and rescued via helicopter a few days later.  It is now reunited with its handler (click here).

With thanks to Kalinka Rexer-Huber.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 25 December 2019

Seasonal greetings and best wishes for 2020 from the ACAP Secretariat

The ACAP Secretariat extends season’s greetings and its best wishes for an albatross- and petrel-friendly 2020 to all the readers of ACAP Latest News and to the 4790 followers of the Agreement's Facebook page.

Next year’s inaugural World Albatross Day (WAD2020) on 19 June with its theme “Eradicating Island Pests” will mark the attempts to eradicate House Mice on Gough and Midway Islands.  ACAP wishes all the members of the Gough Island Restoration Programme and the Midway Seabird Protection Project the very best of luck.

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Shy Albatrosses over Albatross Island and WAD2020; photograph by Drew Lee, artwork by Wiesława Misiak

Christine Bogle, John Cooper and Wiesława Misiak, ACAP Secretariat, 24 December 2019

Humane Society International Australia is a World Albatross Day supporter

Humane Society International (HSI) is a national and international conservation and animal protection NGO that specialises in the application of domestic and international environment law. Established in Australia in 1994, HSI works to change government conservation and animal protection policies and law for the better, while striving to enforce the effective implementation of those laws.  Its mission is to build an ecologically sustainable and humane world for all animals.

HSI logo

HSI Australia has been involved in the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels since its inception and has regularly attended meetings as an observer in recent years. HSI’s Seabird Consultant Nigel Brothers serves as a member of ACAP’s Seabird Bycatch Working Group, to which he contributes his extensive (and pioneering) knowledge on albatross mortality from interactions with fisheries.

With the close links already existing between ACAP and HSI Australia, ACAP Latest News has been in contact to gain support for the inauguration of World Albatross Day next year on 19 June.  The day intends to increase awareness of the continuing conservation crisis faced by the world’s albatrosses and petrels.  In response senior members of HSI Australia have contributed their views on World Albatross Day:

Erica Martin HSI shrunk

Chief Executive Erica Martin writes: “The iconic albatross has long been a focus of HSI’s campaign efforts and so we are proud to support every effort to give them the attention they deserve.  World Albatross Day is an opportunity to remind the world of the plight of the albatross and help drive even greater conservation efforts.”

 

 

 

 

 

Nicola Beynon HSI shrunk

HSI’s Head of Campaigns Nicola Beynon (who contributed as a member of Australia’s Delegation to meetings that negotiated the Agreement) states her view: “When we negotiated the Agreement we were so optimistic that it would bring about the change we need to turn albatross conservation around but we always knew that it would take cooperation from our colleagues in fisheries agencies.  It saddens me that, while we have achieved good cooperation in some countries, we still don’t have that cooperation working well all around the world and albatross continue to die in terrifying numbers.”

 

 

 

 

Alexia Wellbelove HSI shrunk

HSI’s Senior Campaign Manager Alexia Wellbelove (who is a member of ACAP’s Intersessional World Albatross Day Working Group) says: “Whilst the challenges facing albatrosses are immense, we continue to be inspired by the individuals working tirelessly to protect them.  We hope that the ACAP-declared conservation crisis and the newly declared World Albatross Day will advance even greater efforts to ensure fishing nations urgently implement conservation measures, reduce bycatch and ultimately ensure these majestic birds are protected.”

 

 

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Nigel Brothers adds his opinion: “Nobody wants to kill a magnificent 50-year old albatross and yet hundreds are killed every day just to put fish on your plate.  Support World Albatross Day and help end this conservation crisis!”

Nigel Brothers Waved Alb sat transmitter shrunk

Nigel Brothers releases a Waved Albatross Phoebastria irrorata bearing a back-mounted satellite tracker (with its aerial visible) in Peruvian waters

ACAP looks forward to a continuing association with Humane Society International Australia as World Albatross Day approaches.

With thanks to Alexia Wellbelove.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 23 December 2019


 

Mexico’s Natividad Island gets a visit by two Laysan Albatrosses

Yuri Albores-Barajas (Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur: La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico) and colleagues have published a note in the journal Oryx on their observations of two Near Threatened Laysan Albatrosses Phoebastria immutabilis (one banded as a chick on Hawaiian island of Oahu in 2010) visiting Natividad Island for a two-month period in 2019.

Laysan Albatross by James Lloyd 

A Laysan Albatross broods its chick on a Hawaiian island, photograph by James Lloyd

Note the short note does not seem to make it clear whether both, or only the banded bird, was seen ashore, or, indeed, that they acted as a pair.

Reference:

Albores-Barajas, Y.V., Soldatini, C., Bambini, G. & Favilli, E. 2020.  One swallow does not make a summer, but could a Laysan albatross pair make a colony at Natividad Island, Mexico?  Oryx 54(1), 13-14. doi:10.1017/S0030605319001121.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 22 December 2019

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