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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Short-tailed Albatross to get a new five-year status review

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is initiating a five-year status review of the globally Vulnerable Short-tailed Albatross Phoebastria albatrus in terms of the US Endangered Species Act (ESA).  A five-year status review is based on the best scientific and commercial data available at the time of the review. The USFWS is requesting submission of any new information that has become available since the last review of the species in 2014 (click here).

Georg Geraldine 2018

A Short-tailed Albatross pair - named George and Geraldine - on Midway Atoll

“In conducting these reviews, we consider the best scientific and commercial data that have become available since the listing determination or most recent status review, such as:

(1) The biology of the species, including but not limited to population trends, distribution, abundance, demographics, and genetics;

(2) Habitat conditions, including but not limited to amount, distribution, and suitability;

(3) Conservation measures that have been implemented that benefit the species;

(4) Threat status and trends in relation to the five listing factors (as defined in section 4(a)(1) of the ESA); and

(5) Other new information, data, or corrections, including but not limited to taxonomic or nomenclatural changes, identification of erroneous information contained in the List, and improved analytical methods.

Any new information will be considered during the 5-year review and will also be useful in evaluating the ongoing recovery programs for the species.”

Comments are due by 21 January 2020.

For additional information about ESA five-year reviews click here.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 28 November 2019

No new MPAs in Antarctic waters this year (again) after CCAMLR meets

This year’s annual meetings of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) and of its subsidiary bodies were held in Hobart, Australia from 7 October to 1 November.  CCAMLR was established by international convention in 1982 with the objective of conserving Antarctic marine life, in response to increasing commercial interest in Antarctic krill resources.  The Commission is a consensus-based organisation consisting of 26 Members (25 countries and the European Union).

ACAP’s Executive Secretary, Christine Bogle and Science Officer, Wiesława Misiak attended this year’s meetings, along with observers from other bodies.

Issues reported and discussed of relevance to the conservation of albatrosses and petrels included:

  • The second year in which there were no reports of illegal fishing in the Convention Area (and thus fishing that is assumed not to use bycatch mitigation measures);
  • New prohibitions of the discharge of plastics and dumping and discharging of oil or fuel products from fishing vessels in the entire Convention Area;
  • Agreement on precautionary catch limits for all toothfish Dissostichus sp. fisheries in the Convention Area; and
  • For another year no new Marine Protected Areas were established. Instead, CCAMLR reported “Research and monitoring plans for existing marine protected areas (MPAs), as well as proposals to establish three new MPAs – in East Antarctica, the Weddell Sea, and the Western Antarctic Peninsula – were the subject of much discussion.  Members will continue to work intersessionally on proposals for these MPAs before they are again considered at next year’s meeting.”

See CCAMLR’s full news release on this year’s meetings here.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 27 November 2019

An injured Southern Royal Albatross gets collected at sea for rehabilitation

A Southern Royal Albatross Diomedea epomophora unable to fly with a dislocated wing joint was rescued at sea on 15 November by Dolphin Encounter Kaikoura off the eastern coast of New Zealand’s South Island – as reported by the Australian Seabird Rescue South Coast Branch.

The bird was transported the same day on a 180-km journey by car (on the back seat in a seat-belted bag with all the windows open for cooling) from Kaikoura to the South Island Wildlife Hospital in Christchurch where it is undergoing rehabilitation.  The hospital writes on its Facebook page: “We are hoping we can get it back in the air very soon.  Because it had many external parasites on it indicated it had been ashore probably to nest in the Campbell Islands. They fly 1000's km to feed off the Kaikoura shelf.”  It is has been named Charles "in honour of the Royal visit" and is being hand fed with introduced New Zealand King Salmon or Chinook Oncorhynchus tshawytscha smolt.

Seen at sea with an injured wing

Safely aboard following capture in a hand net

In the rehabiliation centre

Watch a video clip on the bird's rescue and treatment.

The Southern Royal Albatross or Toroa is considered Naturally Uncommon in New Zealand; it has a global category of threat of Vulnerable.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 26 November 2019

The President and Chief Officers of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research share their thoughts on next year’s inaugural World Albatross Day

The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) is an inter-disciplinary committee of the International Science Council (ISC).  SCAR is charged with initiating, developing and coordinating high-quality international scientific research in the Antarctic region (including the Southern Ocean), and on the role of the Antarctic region in the Earth system.  ACAP Latest News recently reached out to senior members of SCAR to gain their support of next year's inaugural World Albatross Day on 19 June.

Steven L. Chown, SCAR President, of the School of Biological Sciences, Monash University, Australia has written in return: “World Albatross Day celebrates the world's most accomplished ocean-travelling birds, drawing attention to the problems they face because of us, and the solutions we must find to secure a future which, by being promising for them, will be good for us too.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life Sciences activities within SCAR coordinate research that is focused on:

  1. Understanding the impact of past, current and predicted environmental change on biodiversity and the consequences for adaptation and function;
  2. Determining the effects of cold, darkness, isolation and pathogens on the health and welfare of scientists and support staff in the Antarctic; and
  3. Through multidisciplinary collaborations, understanding the complexities of the Antarctic environment and predicting the consequences of change.

Life Sciences' Chief Officer is Yan Ropert-Coudert of the French Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS). Yan, who is  Director of Research at the Centre d'Etudes Biologiques de Chizé, writes in support of World Albatross Day: “As scientists working in the Southern Ocean, who hasn't been amazed by these fithful companions that follow ships for days?  Let's make sure they'll continue roaming the seas in the future/ Quel scientifique travaillant dans l'Océan Austral ne s'est pas émerveillé du vol majestueux de ces compagnons fidèles des bateaux!  Faisons en sorte qu'ils puissent continuer à sillonner les mers dans le futur.”

 

 

 

Within Life Sciences resides the SCAR Expert Group on Birds and Marine Mammals (EG-BAMM), tasked with providing expert knowledge and research leadership related to birds and mammals in the Antarctic, on sub-Antarctic islands and in the Southern Ocean.  The Expert group’s Chief Officer is Mark Hindell of the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania.

SCAR's Standing Committee on the Antarctic Treaty System (SCATS) is responsible for coordinating the advice presented to Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings.  Its Chief Officer Aleks Terauds, Section Head, Biodiversity Conservation at the Australian Antarctic Division (and author of Albatross: Elusive Mariners of the Southern Ocean) shares his thoughts: “Albatrosses show us what true freedom really looks like.  World Albatross Day should remind us of the work still to be done to reduce human activities that continue to threaten these extraordinary species.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

ACAP hopes that SCAR will stay supportive of World Abatross Day as 19 June next year approaches.

The next round of SCAR meetings will be held in Hobart, Australia in July/August next year.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 25 November 2019

 

New Zealand’s new National Plan of Action for Seabirds is released for comment

Fisheries New Zealand and the New Zealand Department of Conservation have released an updated national plan of action to reduce the number of seabirds caught in fisheries (NPOA) for public comment following input from an advisory group of stakeholders.  The draft National Plan of Action Seabirds 2020 -Reducing the Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Fisheries outlines the commitment to reducing fishing-related captures of seabirds, with stated goals and objectives.

Antipodean Albatross by Mike DoubleAntipodean Albatross, photograph by Mike Double

 The plan's Executive Summary follows:

"New Zealand is a centre of seabird biodiversity: of an estimated 346 seabird species, there are approximately 145 taxa that use New Zealand waters, and 95 species that breed in New Zealand. Many of these species’ activities overlap with fishing, which can lead to the bycatch of seabirds. The National Plan of Action‑Seabirds 2020: reducing the incidental mortality of seabirds in fisheries (NPOA-Seabir s 2020), outlines the New Zealand Government’s ongoing commitment to reducing bycatch of seabirds in our fisheries.

The NPOA-Seabirds 2020, like its predecessors, stems from a recommendation made in the UN (United Nations) Food and Agriculture Organisation’s International plan of action for reducing incidental catch of seabirds in longline fisheries (IPOA-Seabirds) in 1999.

The NPOA-Seabirds 2020 is New Zealand’s third iteration of a national plan of action. New Zealand has embarked on a programme of transformational change in our fisheries management to ensure that our fisheries are world-leading in their sustainability and environmental performance. At the end of this period, we expect to have significantly increased monitoring and more responsible, low-impact fishing practices.

In recognition of this path to change, this NPOA-Seabirds 2020 focusses [sic] on education, partnering to find innovative solutions to bycatch mitigation, and ensuring that all fishers know how and are taking all practicable steps to avoiding seabird bycatch.

In five years, monitoring capabilities will have expanded and we will have better information on seabird populations and how to avoid captures. This will allow for more direct management, including consideration of mortality limits or other approaches as appropriate. We also expect that we will have a better understanding of seabird populations and behaviours, which will help us to identify other ways that we can ensure the long-term viability of our seabird species.

This NPOA-Seabirds 2020 establishes the framework that the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Fisheries New Zealand will use to work together on seabird initiatives.

The NPOA-Seabirds 2020’s vision is that New Zealand strives for no fishing-related seabird captures.

Guided by this vision, the NPOA-Seabirds 2020 has four goals:

1. Avoiding bycatch — effective bycatch-mitigation practices are implemented in New Zealand fisheries
2. Healthy seabird populations — direct effects of New Zealand fishing don’t threaten seabird populations
3. Research and information — information to effectively manage fisheries impacts on seabirds is continuously improved
4. International engagement — New Zealand actively engages internationally to promote the use of measures that reduce impacts on New Zealand seabirds

Each goal has objectives to be achieved within the next five years. We will report on our progress towards these objectives in a Seabird Annual Report, and will use the information it contains to set the following year’s priorities in a Seabird Implementation Plan. After five years, we will review the achievements and challenges of the NPOA-Seabirds 2020.

The Seabird Advisory Group (made up of representatives from government agencies and representatives of tangata whenua) will meet periodically to monitor and help implement the NPOA-Seabirds 2020, and to consider new or arising matters related to the impacts on seabirds from fisheries."

Click here to access the draft plan along with several supporting documents (including the 2013 NPOA) and to obtain details on how to make submissions, with a deadline of 27 January 2020.  Read the government's media release on the draft NPOA here, as well as an NGO view.

New Zealand, along with Australia and Chile, has proposed the Appendix I listing of the globally Endangered Antipodean Albatross Diomedea antipodensis on the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) (click here).

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 24 November 2019

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