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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Death of 74 White-chinned Petrels in the South Atlantic leads to a hefty fine

Back in April, ACAP Latest News reported on a contravention of the Conservation Measures of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) that reportedly led to the deaths of 74 ACAP-listed listed White-chinned Petrels Procellaria aequinoctialis in the South Atlantic by a fishing vessel targeting Patagonian Toothfish Dissostichus eleginoides (click here).

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A hooked White-chinned Petrel, photograph by Nicolas Gasco

News is now in that the incident has led to the issuing of a substantial fine as quoted below:

“An administrative penalty has been issued to the charters of a licensed longline vessel as a result an infringement of one of the CCAMLR Conservation Measures.  The penalty notice was issued on April 30th and related to an event in [a] toothfish fishery on April 13th, 2014.

The penalty was a result of the vessel completing the setting of a line after nautical twilight (dawn), which is a contravention of the night setting requirement designed to reduce seabird mortality in longline fisheries. The late setting of the line is likely to have contributed to the incidental mortality of 74 white-chinned petrels which were caught during setting of the line. This incidental mortality event is the largest in the fishery for over 10 years.  The vessel operators subsequently admitted the offence and were issued with a penalty of  30,000.” (click here).

Mitigation measures in the fishery have now been adjusted so that vessels complete the setting of lines at least three hours before sunrise until 15 May to reduce the risk of incidental capture of any more White-chinned Petrels.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 22 July 2014

ACAP Advisory Committee to meet in Uruguay for the eighth time this September

The Eighth Meeting of the Advisory Committee (AC8) of the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP) will be held from Monday, 15 September to Friday, 19 September 2014, at the Barradas HotelPunta del Este, Uruguay (click here).

This will be the first time ACAP has met in Uruguay.  Previously it has met in all the other South American countries which are Parties to the Agreement: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and Peru.

Meetings of the Advisory Committee’s Population and Conservation Status Working Group (PaCSWG) and Seabird Bycatch Working Group (SBWG) will precede AC8.  These meetings will also be held at the Barradas Hotel, from Monday 8 to Tuesday 9 September (PaCSWG), and Wednesday 10 to Friday 12 September (SBWG).  A Heads of Delegation meeting will be convened on Sunday, 14 September 2014 in the evening.

Meeting documents for AC8 and its working groups will appear prior to the meetings in Punta del Este on this web site.  A glimpse at the provisional agenda for the Advisory Committee reveals that as well as considering reports of the working groups (including of its Taxonomy Working Group) it will also consider any proposals brought forward by Parties to list new species within the Agreement.

Tristan Albatross in Uruguayan waters, photograph by Martin Abreu

A key task for this meeting will be to prepare a summary report on Parties’ progress with implementation of the Agreement.  Because this report will mark the 10-year anniversary of the Agreement coming into effect it is an important milestone and an opportune time to reflect on the achievements made by Parties in improving the conservation status of albatrosses and petrels.

Reports on current work programmes and those proposed for the next triennium for both Advisory Committee and Secretariat will also be reviewed, for consideration and adoption by Parties at the next Session of the Meeting of ACAP Parties due to be held in 2015.

John Cooper ACAP Information Officer, 21 July 2014

The Hookpod aims to go commercial to reduce albatross mortality by pelagic longline fisheries

Over the last decade or so much effort has been put into ways of reducing the mortality of albatrosses and petrels in longline fisheries.  Mitigation measures currently considered to be best practice are the deployment of twinned bird-scaring lines, line weighting and night setting.

Various other techniques have been developed and tested over the years.  Now a new idea from a UK company set up last year, Hookpod Ltd, is aiming to undertake commercial trials with its invention.

According to the company “[t]he Hookpod is an incredibly clever device which provides fishermen with an easy to use and durable way of protecting the barb of hook during setting.  With a built in LED light and weighting, it reduces the need for light sticks and additional weights, thus reducing costs and marine waste.  It also saves your crews setting time and is very effective at reducing accidental bycatch of seabirds.  Designed to last for hundreds of sets over 3 years of operation, the Hookpod provides a single measure to reduce seabird bycatch and ensure fishing operations are as quick, safe and effective as possible.”

Read more about the Hookpod here and here.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 20 July 2014

Final issue of MIPEP’s Macquarie Despatch reports on island recovery after removal of vertebrate pests

The final issue (No. 14 of July 2014) of Macquarie Despatch, the newsletter of the successful Macquarie Island Pest Eradication Project (MIPEP) has been published.

In it you can read an article by veteran Australian botanist Jenny Scott entitled “Spectacular changes in the post-rabbit era” describing how the sub-Antarctic island’s vegetation is fast recovering.  Information is also given on how biosecurity procedures for visitors to the island have been tightened up.

Macquarie Island view, photograph by Aleks Terauds

 Grey Petrels on Macquarie are doing better post rodents and rabbits

Photograph courtesy of the Tasmania Parks & Wildlife Service

A concluding article “A dog’s work is never done...” describes where the rabbit and rodent detection dogs have ended up: seems all have found good homes.

“This will probably be the last Macquarie Dispatch as the project in nearing to a close and was declared a success upon the return of the team in April 2014.  The MIPEP Project Team in conjunction with the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service would like to thank you all for your ongoing support and well wishes during the past 8 years.”  Click here to access earlier issues of the MIPEP newsletter.

They make heartening reading!

Click here to access earlier accounts in ACAP Latest News on Australia's largest island eradication exercise.  See also the ACAP Breeding Site account for Macquarie Island.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 19 July 2014

Looking for “hot spots”: tracking Light-mantled Sooty Albatrosses (and other charismatic fauna) in Antarctic waters

Ben Raymond (Australian Antarctic Division, Channel Highway, Tasmania, Australia) and colleagues write in the journal Ecography on tracking electronically ACAP-listed Light-mantled Sooty Albatrosses Phoebetria palpebrata, penguins and seals off East Antarctica.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Satellite telemetry data are a key source of animal distribution information for marine ecosystem management and conservation activities.  We used two decades of telemetry data from the East Antarctic sector of the Southern Ocean.  Habitat utilization models for the spring/summer period were developed for six highly abundant, wide-ranging meso- and top-predator species: Adélie Pygoscelis adeliae and emperor Aptenodytes forsteri penguins, light-mantled albatross Phoebetria palpebrata, Antarctic fur seals Arctocephalus gazella, southern elephant seals Mirounga leonina, and Weddell seals Leptonychotes weddellii.  The regional predictions from these models were combined to identify areas utilized by multiple species, and therefore likely to be of particular ecological significance.  These areas were distributed across the longitudinal breadth of the East Antarctic sector, and were characterized by proximity to breeding colonies, both on the Antarctic continent and on subantarctic islands to the north, and by sea-ice dynamics, particularly locations of winter polynyas.  These areas of important habitat were also congruent with many of the areas reported to be showing the strongest regional trends in sea ice seasonality.  The results emphasize the importance of on-shore and sea-ice processes to Antarctic marine ecosystems.  Our study provides ocean-basin-scale predictions of predator habitat utilization, an assessment of contemporary habitat use against which future changes can be assessed, and is of direct relevance to current conservation planning and spatial management efforts.”

Light-mantled Sooty Albatrosses fly over Antarctic waters, photograph by John Chardine

See a separate report on the publication here.

Reference:

Raymond, B., Lea, Patterson, T., Andrews-Goff, V., Sharples, R., Charrassin, J-B., Cottin, M., Emmerson, L., Gales, N., Gales, R., Goldsworthy, S.D., Harcourt, R., Kato, A., Kirkwood, R., Lawton, K., Ropert-Coudert, Y. Southwell, C., van den Hoff, J., Wienecke, B., Woehler, E.J., Wotherspoon, S. & Hindell, M.A. 2014.  Important marine habitat off east Antarctica revealed by two decades of multi-species predator tracking. Ecography DOI:10.1111/ecog.01021.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 18 July 2014

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