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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Deadline extended for International Fisheries Observer and Monitoring Conference (IFOMC) abstract submissions

IFOMC Deadline Extension Web

The deadline to submit abstracts for presentations at the International Fisheries Observer and Monitoring Conference (IFOMC) has been extended to 31 October.

Supported by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) and the Tasmanian Government, the IFOMC is the leading international conference series for promoting effective fishery monitoring programs throughout the world with the aim to ensure sustainable marine resource management.

Members and interested parties from the international scientific and fishery monitoring community are invited to register for the conference, and present novel research and information on a variety of themes covering fisheries observer health and safety and training programs, and the use of monitoring program data to support sustainable resource management.

The conference is taking place in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia from 6 to 10 March 2023.

For more information please visit: www.ifomc.aq

30 September 2022


Modelling fisheries bycatch of the Short-tailed Albatross in the North Pacific

Short tailed Albatross Laurie Johnson Lucimara Wesolowicz.hiquaL
A Short-tailed Albatross pair, artwork for ACAP by Lucimara Wesolowicz‎ of ABUN; after a photograph by Laurie Smaglick Johnson

Thomas Good (Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Seattle, Washington, USA) and colleagues model bycatch of the globally Vulnerable Short-tailed Albatross Diomedea albatrus in the journal Fisheries Research.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Developing unbiased estimates of incidental bycatch poses a challenge for species where fishing-induced mortality is a rare occurrence.  Expanding rare mortality events using ratio estimators or bycatch of proxy species can result in highly variable estimates based on untested and often untestable assumptions.  We estimated short-tailed albatross bycatch in a U.S. West Coast groundfish fishery using Bayesian time series modeling.  The best model used a constant bycatch rate and inferred annual expected bycatch and variability using a Poisson distribution, given specified levels of observed effort. Fleet-wide bycatch estimates varied annually and peaked at 1.35 birds in 2011 (the year of the only observed mortality). The probability of exceeding the limit of five estimated takes in a 2-year period was very low throughout the time series, and estimated takes in the unobserved portion of the fleet are more likely with lower observer coverage and higher fishing effort.  The Bayesian model-based approach avoids assumptions inherent in ratio estimators and proxy methods; it incorporates uncertainty, reduces volatility, and enables comparisons of bycatch estimates to management thresholds.  This analytical approach offers natural resource managers a framework for estimating bycatch in data-limited contexts, which can result in better guidance for management actions and mitigation strategies.”

Reference:

Good, T.P., Jannot, J.E., Somers, K.A. & Ward, E.J. 2022.  Using Bayesian time series models to estimate bycatch of an endangered albatross.  Fisheries Research 256: 106492.

John Cooper, ACAP News Correspondent, 29 September 2022

Couldn't make it to this year's Seabird Group Conference? Don't worry, you can catch up online

seabirdgroupconference

Plenary Speakers from the 15th International Seabird Group Conference (clockwise from top left), Prof Emily Shepard, Dr Alex Bond and Dr Annette Fayet

Sessions from the 15th International Seabird Group Conference are now available to watch online at The Seabird Group’s YouTube channel. The conference took place 22nd - 25th August at University College Cork, in Ireland, and featured a slew of presentations under a wide range of session themes including; Monitoring, Pollution and Toxicology, Urbanisation, Invasives and Restoration, and more. 

Dr Francis Daunt opened the conference with the Welcome Address, Insights into seabird population ecology from 50 years of research on the Isle of May. Plenary speakers included, Prof Emily Shepard from Swansea University with, From take-off to touch down: How and when do strong winds become risky for seabirds?, Dr Alex Bond from the UK’s Natural History Museum with, From individuals to communities who spoke on plastic pollution, queerness, and compassion in seabird science, and Dr Annette Fayet from the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research with, Drivers of seabird movements and their fitness consequences.

The Seabird Group is a registered charity whose goal is to promote and help coordinate the study and conservation of seabirds. The group organises regular international conferences, has a small grants program and publishes the annual colour journal Seabird. The Group actively encourages its members to get involved in surveys of seabirds and other research work.

Sessions from the conference programme can be viewed here

26 September 2022

Hooked! Two Wandering Albatrosses on Bird Island in the South Atlantic get a reprieve to continue breeding

Hooked Wanderer Bird Island Erin Taylor
The Wandering Albatross at a marked nest on Bird Island, with a rusted longline hook through its upper mandible prior to removal; photograph from Erin Taylor

Erin Taylor (Zoological Field Assistant, British Antarctic Survey on Bird Island in the South Atlantic) writes on the Facebook page of the Albatross Task Force this month: “Just over four months ago, the team on Bird Island removed a hook from this Wandering Albatross’ bill.  Today, the adult is successfully raising a strong chick [see below] who is beginning to show some juvenile plumage!”

Following an approach by ACAP Latest News, Erin replies that “The bird in question is a female with the band number 5147573.  She was banded in 1993 as a juvenile and has bred with the same partner (5147784) 11 times since their first attempt in 2002. They have raised eight successful chicks together in Bird Sound. The chick had already hatched when the entanglement was discovered and has grown at a rate consistent with the other chicks being fed by two parents.  The hook removal was simple as it had passed through the hard part of the mandible so all we had to do was chop the hooked tip off with bolt cutters in order to get it back through the hole, the wound was then disinfected.  The bird only has a metal band as it nests in Bird Sound, not on in the Wanderer Ridge study colony. but all the Wanderers are counted across the whole island once a month from April.”

Hooked Wanderer chick Bird Island Erin Taylor
Definitely well fed!  The hooked Wanderer’s chick; photograph from Erin Taylor

This is not the first time attempts have been made this season to remove fishing hooks from Vulnerable Wandering Albatrosses Diomedea exulans on Bird Island.  The previous entanglement was on 16 December 2021 and also involved a female (band no. 4003232) that fledged in 2008. She has bred twice on the island, with two different partners, being successful on her 2nd attempt. Both hooks removed this season had the same lime green multifilament line attached, so it is highly likely the birds were caught alive and released on the same fishing vessel.

Hooked Wanderer Bird Island James Crymble 1

Hooked Wanderer Bird Island James Crymble 2

The Wandering Albatross found hooked on Bird Island in December 2021; photographs by James Crymble

 Tristan Albatross hook Kate Lawrence
A hooked Tristan Albatross on Gough Island, photograph by Kate Lawrence

The Wanderer is not the only great albatross that succumbs to longline hooks.  The picture above is of a Critically Endangered Tristan Albatross D. dabbenena in a study colony on Gough Island with a hook in its neck.  A hooked Tristan Albatross caught at sea did not survive, despite having the longline hook removed (click here).  .  Another great albatross, the Endangered Antipodean D. antipodensis, in this case identified as from the Gibson’s subspecies (photo below), is not immune from being hooked, as another ALN account reveals, this time with a successful result.

Hooked Antipodean Tas 2Removing the hook from the Gibson’s Antipodean Albatross, photograph by the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment

Richard Phillips of the British Antarctic Survey writes to ALN: “Live captures of seabirds are unfortunately very frequent, accounting for a mean of 40% and 11% of all bycaught birds in demersal and pelagic longline fisheries, respectively.  How often this affects individual species depends on both the degree of overlap with different fisheries and the level of interaction with gear during hauling.   In the one study to date that has examined survival of live-caught albatrosses once released, this was around 40% of that expected for the wider population. The level of monitoring of live captures is poor in many fisheries and the potentially major impacts on survival need to be taken into much better account in ecological risk assessments on the impacts of fisheries on seabirds.”

With thanks to Erin Taylor.

References:

Phillips, R.A., Ridley, C., Reid, K., Pugh, P.J.A., Tuck, G.N. & Harrison, N. 2010.  Ingestion of fishing gear and entanglements of seabirds: monitoring and implications for management.  Biological Conservation 143: 501-512. (ALN account).

Phillips, R.A. & Wood, A.G. 2020.  Variation in live-capture rates of albatrosses and petrels in fisheries, post-release survival and implications for management. Biological Conservation 247, 108641. (ALN account)

Whylie, B. 2010.  One albatross of the hook.  The Albatross 45: 7-8.

John Cooper, ACAP News Correspondent, & Richard Phillips, Higher Predators and Conservation Group, British Antarctic Survey, 27 September 2022

Ingested plastics in 47% of beach-washed Fairy Prions from Tasmania

Fairy Prion at sea Peter Ryan
A Fairy Prion flys by at sea; photograph by Peter Ryan

Jennifer Lavers (Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Tasmania, Australia) and colleagues have published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin on ingested plastics and body condition in wrecked Fairy Prions Pachyptila turtur.

ACAP has recently announced “Plastic Pollution” as the theme for 2023’s World Albatross Day (WAD2023). Although Fairy Prions are not an ACAP-listed species, ACAP will be highlighting all papers and news items relating to the WAD2023 theme beyond its listed species to all procellariiforms leading up to the event.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Plastic is an omnipresent pollutant in marine ecosystems and is widely documented to be ingested among seabird species. Procellariiformes are particularly vulnerable to plastic ingestion, which can cause internal damage, starvation, and occasionally mortality. In this study, 34 fledgling Fairy Prions (Pachyptila turtur) recovered during a wreck event in south-eastern Tasmania in 2022 were examined for ingested plastics and body condition (e.g., wing chord length). While many of the birds exhibited poor body condition, this was not correlated with the count or mass of ingested plastics. We hypothesise the marine heatwave event, and resulting lack of prey, contributed to bird body condition and subsequent mortality. We provide some of the first data on the size of individual plastic particles ingested by seabirds and make recommendations for future studies to report this important metric in a consistent manner that ensures data are comparable.”

REFERENCE

Lavers, J.L., de Jersey, A.M., Jones, N.R., Stewart, L.G., Charlton-Howard, H.S., Grant, M.L. & Woehler, E.J. 2022.  Ingested plastics in beach-washed Fairy Prions Pachyptila turtur from Tasmania. Marine Pollution Bulletin 184https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2022.114096

26 September 2022

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