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’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

Benefits of foraging in close association may outweigh costs in two sympatric shearwaters

Paloma Carvalho & Gail Davoren (University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada) have published open access in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series on Great Ardenna gravis and Sooty A. grisea Shearwaters associating in the North Atlantic off Canada.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Prey aggregations are not uniformly distributed, driving predator species to aggregate in specific areas of high food availability. On the east coast of Newfoundland, capelin Mallotus villosus, a small forage fish, migrate inshore to spawn during the summer, providing an abundant food source for marine predators. During this period, non-breeding great shearwaters Ardenna gravis (GRSH) and sooty shearwaters A. grisea (SOSH), both long-distance migratory sea birds, aggregate in coastal Newfoundland, but it is unclear what drives their distributional patterns within this region. Using at-sea surveys, we investigated whether the density and distributional patterns  of GRSH or SOSH were influenced by sea surface temperature, depth and fish (prey) density as well as the number of the other seabird species or other shearwater species (i.e. GRSH or SOSH). The presence and number of GRSH and SOSH were positively influenced by the density of the other sympatric shearwater species but were not influenced by the densities of other seabird species. These findings suggest that the benefits of foraging in close association may outweigh costs. Fish density was less important in explaining the presence and number of GRSH and SOSH than depth, as both species were mainly found together in shallow areas (<50 m) along the coast.  As fish density was primarily distributed in shallow areas, reflecting predictable locations of and migratory routes to capelin spawning sites, depth (or distance from shore) and the distribution of other shearwaters may provide important cues to locate regions of high prey availability in coastal Newfoundland.”

 

Great Shearwater

Reference:

Carvalho, P.C. & Davoren, G.K. 2019.  Associations of non-breeding shearwater species on the northeastern Newfoundland coast.  Marine Ecology Progress Series 627: 1-12.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 23 November 2019

UPDATED. Third World Seabird Conference: abstract submission deadline extended

UPDATE

Submission deadline extended to 16 December 2019

"Due to overwhelming community requests, WSC3 is extending the abstract submissions deadline until Monday December 16.  Submissions are being accepted for symposia, certain workshops, contributed oral presentations and posters.  More information can be found on the website regarding submissions guidelines, process and accepted symposia and workshops.  Please note the deadline for submissions is 23:59 Central Standard Time December 16, 2019 and no further extensions will be granted."

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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, updated 22 November 2019

A South Atlantic NGO lends its support to next year's World Albatross Day

Falklands Conservation is a small non-governmental organisation affiliated to BirdLife International that works to protect wildlife in the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)*.  “We undertake practical conservation projects, surveys and scientific studies, conduct annual monitoring of seabird populations, rehabilitate oiled penguins, publish guides and information on many aspects of the Falkland Islands environment, and involve Islanders of all ages in our activities.”  ACAP Latest News has been in touch with the NGO over next year’s inaugural World Albatross Day on 19 June.

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In response, the NGO’s Chief Executive Officer, Esther Bertram has written in support of the day to ACAP Latest News: “Get ready for World Albatross Day on 19 June 2020.  A chance to celebrate these fabulous birds.  Living into their 60s, having the longest wingspan of any bird, spending much of their life in the air and being ridiculously attractive, what’s not to like?!”

 

 

 

 

 Conservation Manager Andy Stanworth at Falklands Conservation writes: “The first World Albatross Day will raise awareness of the significant threats and challenges currently facing these amazing birds.  Let’s hope that in the future it is simply to celebrate them!”

 

 

 

 

 

 Falkland Conservation’s Conservation Officer, Sarah Crofts, who works on penguin and albatross monitoring in the islands, has also commented to ACAP Latest News: “World Albatross Day brings awareness on the global conservation plight of these extraordinarily long-lived ocean navigators.  It also celebrates the efforts achieved by scientists, conservationists, governments and industry working together to sustain albatross populations into the future.”

 

 

 

 

 Three ACAP-listed species breed in the Falkland Islands: Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophris, Southern Giant Petrel Macronectes giganteus and White-chinned Petrel Procellaria aequinoctialis.  ACAP is exploring with Falklands Conservation how to collaborate further on raising awareness of the inaugural World Albatross Day next year, centred on these three species.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 22 November 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.

 

Help coming for fledging Westland Petrels with plans to hood street lights

The New Zealand Transport Agency is sourcing hoods for the street lights around Punakaiki on the western coast of South Island to minimise the fallout problem for the globally Endangered and ACAP-listed Westland Petrel Procellaria westlandica.

A downed Westland Petrel fledgling is released to sea the next day

The existing lights have led to groundings of fledglings in past seasons, with some birds then being hit and killed by vehicles at night (click here).

"Westland petrel chicks are leaving the nest for the first time between November and January and can be disorientated by lights and poor weather at the very start of their long journey to South America.  90% of petrels found downed due to disorientation by lights are fledglings.  Tragically, many are disorientated by vehicle or street lights and come down on roads.  Black birds on a black road at night are highly likely to be involved in a collision and are often killed.  They also need height to launch themselves, so if they come down on the road, they are likely to be stranded" (read more here).

Information from the Westland Petrel Conservation Trust.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 21 November 2019

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