Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

Lawsuit filed to prevent lights from killing Newell’s Shearwaters and Hawaiian Petrels on three Hawaiian islands

Two conservation groups represented by the nonprofit law firm Earthjustice have filed a lawsuit against the Hawaii Department of Transportation for failing to address the injuries and death to globally Endangered Newell’s Shearwaters Puffinus newelli and globally Vulnerable Hawaiian Petrels Pterodroma sandwichensis caused by bright lighting at state-operated airports and harbours on the Hawaiian islands of Kauai, Maui and Lānai. According to the lawsuit the transportation department’s failure to protect these Hawaiian endemic seabirds at its facilities violates the USA’s Endangered Species Act.


Newell's Shearwater, photograph by Eric Vanderwerf

“The seabirds are attracted to bright lights, like those at the department’s airport and harbor facilities. Indeed, those facilities are among the largest documented sources in the state of injury and death to the birds. The seabirds become disoriented and circle the lights until they fall to the ground from exhaustion or crash into nearby buildings. On Kauai, which is home to most of the threatened Newell’s shearwaters remaining on the planet, bright lights have contributed significantly to the catastrophic 94 percent decline in the Newell’s shearwater population since the 1990s. At the same time, Hawaiian petrel numbers on Kauai have plummeted by 78 percent. Remnant breeding populations of the imperiled seabirds cling to survival on Maui and Lānai” (click here).

Read more accounts in ACAP Latest News on threats and conservation activities relating to the two species here.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 29 August 2017