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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New Zealand funds trialling of the Kellian Line Setter to save albatrosses from the hook

ACAP Latest News has previously reported on development of the Kellian Line Setter, which is designed to deliver baited longline hooks underwater at a depth safe from albatrosses scavenging on or near the sea surface and shallow-diving petrels (click here).

New Zealand Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage

New Zealand Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage and Minister of Fisheries Stuart Nash in a government press release have announced funding of NZ$350 000 to test the Kellian Line Setter’s ability to eliminate seabird bycatch on a commercial tuna longliner.  “The device will be installed on a Nelson-based fishing vessel owned by Altair Fishing and put through its paces for six weeks during normal fishing.  A specially trained engineer will be on the vessel for the whole trial”.

Dave Kellian demonstrates his line setter

“New Zealand is home to more species of seabird than any other country with more albatross, petrel, shag and penguin species breeding here than anywhere else in the world. Many seabirds are at risk of bycatch in fisheries including the … Endangered Antipodean Albatross [Diomedea antipodensis] and the Near Threatened … Buller’s Albatross [Thalassarche bulleri]” said Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage in the release.

“Twenty years ago, New Zealand tuna fisherman, Dave Kellian, carried out a simple experiment on his boat and worked out that if baited hooks were released at ten metres, seabirds would be safe from being hooked. He used this knowledge to come up with the original prototype device that set baited hooks underwater.”

Dave Kellian has been quoted: “"I was fishing off Whakatane for yellowfin tuna, using live bait.  I started experimenting by lowering a raincoat full of pilchards into the water on a string. When I pulled the string, it released the pilchards.  At eight metres the birds didn't bother diving; between five and eight metres they'd dive for some; but above five they'd get every piece. The light went on - if we could get the bait to 10 metres, the problem of birds being killed by baited hooks was solved" (click here).

This trial is a collaborative effort and is being funded by the Department of Conservation, Fisheries New Zealand, Fisheries Inshore New Zealand and the Auckland Zoo Charitable Trust through the Southern Seabird Solutions Trust.

“This project is an excellent example of industry and conservation agencies collaborating to achieve better results for our unique seabirds,” conclude the Ministers.

See also a news report on the planned trial.


Baker, G.B., Goad, D., Kiddie, B. & Frost, R. 2014.  Kellian Line Setter Sea Trials Initial Performance Testing.  Report prepared for Department of Conservation Contract 4529.  [Kettering]: Latitude 42 Environmental Consultants Pty Ltd.  7 pp.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 04 July 2019


Where do Black-browed Albatrosses and Sooty Shearwaters go to on the Patagonian Shelf?

Alistair Baylis (Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia) and colleagues have published in the online journal Scientific Reports on at-sea movements of tracked Black-browed Albatrosses Thalassarche melanophris and Sooty Shearwaters Ardenna grisea (and other marine predators) breeding in the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)*.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“The Patagonian Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem supports high levels of biodiversity and endemism and is one of the most productive marine ecosystems in the world.  Despite the important role marine predators play in structuring the ecosystems, areas of high diversity where multiple predators congregate remains poorly known on the Patagonian Shelf. Here, we used biotelemetry and biologging tags to track the movements of six seabird species and three pinniped species breeding at the Falkland Islands.  Using Generalized Additive Models, we then modelled these animals’ use of space as functions of dynamic and static environmental indices that described their habitat. Based on these models, we mapped the predicted distribution of animals from both sampled and unsampled colonies and thereby identified areas where multiple species were likely to overlap at sea. Maximum foraging trip distance ranged from 79 to 1,325 km. However, most of the 1,891 foraging trips by 686 animals were restricted to the Patagonian Shelf and shelf slope, which highlighted a preference for these habitats. Of the seven candidate explanatory covariates used to predict distribution, distance from the colony was retained in models for all species and negatively affected the probability of occurrence.  Predicted overlap among species was highest on the Patagonian Shelf around the Falkland Islands and the Burdwood Bank.  The predicted area of overlap is consistent with areas that are also important habitat for marine predators migrating from distant breeding locations.  Our findings provide comprehensive multi-species predictions for some of the largest marine predator populations on the Patagonian Shelf, which will contribute to future marine spatial planning initiatives. Crucially, our findings highlight that spatially explicit conservation measures are likely to benefit multiple species, while threats are likely to impact multiple species.”


Panel (A) = locations of the 21 tracked breeding colonies (blue dots) at the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)*

Panel (B) = important areas identified by overlap of 50% utilization distributions.
(adapted from the publication)

With thanks to Megan Tierney.


Baylis, A.M.M., Tierney, M.,Orben, R.A., Warwick-Evans, V., Wakefield, E., Grecian, W.J., Trathan, P., Reisinger, R.R., Ratcliffe, N., Croxall, J.P., Campioni, L., Catry, P., Crofts, S., Boersma, P.D., Galimberti, F., Granadeiro, J., Handley, J., Hayes, S., Hedd, A., Masello, J.F., Montevecchi, W.A., Pütz, K., Quillfeldt, P., Rebstock, G.A. Sanvito, S. & Brickle, P. 2019.  Important at-sea areas of colonial breeding marine predators on the Southern Patagonian Shelf.  Scientific Reports 9. 8517. 10.1038/s41598-019-44695-1.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 03 July 2019

*A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (Islas Georgias del Sur y Islas Sandwich del Sur) and the surrounding maritime areas.

An aerial survey of Salvin’s Albatrosses on the Bounty Islands reveals over 57 000 pairs

Barry Baker and Katrina Jensz (Latitude 42 Environmental Management Consultants, Kettering, Tasmania, Australia) have produced a final report on an aerial photographic survey of globally Vulnerable and Nationally Critical Salvin’s Albatrosses breeding at the Bounty Islands that was undertaken in October 2018.  Their report was presented to New Zealand’s Department of Conservation at a meeting of its Conservation Services Programme (CSP) Technical Working Group on 31 May.

“In October 2018 we estimated the total count of nesting Salvin’s albatrosses (Apparently Occupied Sites) in the Bounty Islands to be 60,419 (59,927— 60,911), based on raw counts. These counts have been adjusted downwards to account for the presence of 3,069 birds assessed as being the partners of incubating birds. The total raw count for all islands was 57,350 (95%CI 56,871 — 57,829) nesting Salvin’s albatross pairs (Potential Occupied Sites)."

 Salvin's Albatrosses from the air at the Bounty Islands, photograph by Barry Baker from Baker & Jensz (2019)

Click here to access a report on ground-based research on Salvin’s Albatrosses at the Bounty Islands conducted in the same month last year.

The Conservation Services Programme monitors the impact of commercial fishing on protected species, studies species populations and looks at ways to limit bycatch. The programme is funded by levies from commercial fishers.


Baker, G.B. & Jensz, K. 2019.  Aerial survey of Salvin’s albatross at the Bounty Islands. Final Report prepared for Department of Conservation Contract POP2017-03.  [Kettering]: Latitude 42 Environmental Consultants.  11 pp.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 02 July 2019

Welcome back Marco and next year in Ecuador: more news from ACAP’s most recent Advisory Committee meeting

The Eleventh Meeting of the Advisory Committee (AC11) was held from 13 to 17 May in the neighbourhood of Jurerê Internacional, Florianópolis on Brazil’s Santa Catarina Island.  The Population and Conservation Status (PaCSWG5) and Seabird Bycatch (SBWG9) Working Groups met the week before and reported to AC11 (AC11 Docs 9 & 10).

Delegates attending the Eleventh Meeting of the ACAP Advisory Committee, Jurerê Internacional Resort Hotel, Florianópolis, Brazil, May 2019

Photograph by Tatiana Neves

Some of the highlights of AC11 have already been posted to ACAP Latest News and are summarized here:

Declaration of a conservation crisis for albatrosses and petrels.

A World Albatross Day is to be held annually from 19 June 2020.

New Zealand is considering the merits of listing the Flesh-footed Shearwater Ardenna carnepeis in the Agreement.

The Bahamas and a member economy of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC), Chinese Taipei, attended AC11 as observers for the first time.

Several other matters of general interest were discussed, a few briefly mentioned here:

Namibia and the USA continue to progress their efforts to become Parties to the Agreement.

Ecuador is preparing to re-nominate the Critically Endangered Galapagos Petrel Pterodroma phaeopygia to the Agreement.

Marco Favero from Argentina, ACAP’s second Executive Secretary from 2016 to 2018, attended the two working group meetings.  He was elected a Co-convenor of the PaCSWG, along with Patricia Pereira Serafini from Brazil by the Advisory Committee.  Welcome back Marco!

Ecuador’s offer to host the Twelfth Meeting of ACAP’s Advisory Committee (AC12) and its working groups next year was warmly welcomed.  ACAP’s Seventh Meeting of the Parties (MoP7) is due to be held in Australia in 2021.

Marco Favero - back in the fold

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 01 July 2019

New Zealand deploys at-sea trackers on Salvin’s Abatrosses breeding on the Bounty Islands

A report by NIWA (National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research) presented to New Zealand’s Department of Conservation at a meeting of its Conservation Services Programme (CSP) Technical Working Group late last month describes new research conducted on globally Vulnerable and Nationally Critical Salvin’s Albatrosses Thalassarche salvini breeding on the Bounty Islands.

The report’s Executive Summary follows:

“The Department of Conservation commissioned NIWA to complete ground-based surveys of Salvin’s albatrosses (Thalassarche salvini) that breed on the Bounty Islands. This fieldwork involved deploying transmitting Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking devices and geolocation data loggers (Global Location Sensing (GLS) tags) on breeding birds on Proclamation Island, Bounty Islands; banding and recapturing birds in a study area; completing counts of breeding and non-breeding birds along transects at various time of the day; and deploying automated time-lapse cameras that covered part of the study area. This report outlines the activities undertaken, data collected and a description of the methods used.

Landings were made on Proclamation Island, Bounty Islands, on 20, 21 and 22 October 2018. During this time 14 transmitting GPS and 54 GLS data loggers were deployed on breeding birds. In addition, 98 birds (including the birds fitted with GPS and GLS tracking devices) were fitted with a uniquely numbered stainless steel leg band, with 97 of these birds also fitted with a red numeric plastic band to facilitate identification without the need for recapture. A total of 12 transect counts were undertaken to determine the proportion of breeding birds ashore. Finally, six time-lapse cameras were deployed so that they covered about 41 nests in the study area. Retrieval of the GLS devices is planned for November 2019.”


A breeding Salvin's Albatross, photograph by Paul Sagar

The Conservation Services Programme monitors the impact of commercial fishing on protected species, studies species populations and looks at ways to limit bycatch. The programme is funded by levies from commercial fishers.

With thanks to Graham Parker, Parker Conservation.


Sagar, P., Charteris, M., Parker, G., Rexer-Huber, K. & Thompson, D. 2018.  Salvin's albatross: Bounty Islands population project ground component.   Wellington: National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research Ltd.  18 pp.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 28 June 2019

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