ACAP Latest News

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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Simple yet effective: CCSBT infographics aim to help stop seabird bycatch in fisheries

CCBST seabird bycatch mitigation infographics 1One of the pages from the set of seabird bycatch mitigation infographics released by the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT)

A set of educational seabird bycatch mitigation infographics aiming to reduce the incidence of seabird bycatch in Southern Bluefin Tuna fisheries has been released by the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT).

The infographics were produced as part of a project on enhancing education on, and implementation of, Ecologically Related Species seabird measures within CCSBT Fisheries (Seabird Project). The project is funded by the FAO-GEF Project “Sustainable Management of Tuna Fisheries and Biodiversity Conservation in the Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ)”.

Ross Wanless is the Seabird Project Manager for CCSBT and was heavily involved in the creation of the infographics. Ross explained the Seabird Project wanted the infographics to use maximum imagery with minimal text to convey the chosen mitigation measures. 

“The CCSBT Seabird Project has a significant focus on supporting fishers to use mitigation correctly. The challenge is to communicate key concepts to the people who are responsible for using or not using them, i.e. the crew while they're onboard. So CCSBT decided to create near-text-free infographics that can convey keep concepts at-a-glance. They're designed to be placed on a wall somewhere visible that crew can review with ease,” said Ross.

CCSBT graphics 2Left to right: the night setting and tori pole pages of the infographics

Choosing which measures to highlight in the infographics was also difficult Ross said, and involved the consideration of several criteria, including: 

  1. most challenging to understand why/how
  2. most critical to good performance of the measure
  3. can be explained with static, visual, text-free communication

Sets of the infographics have been printed and laminated by the CCSBT for distribution at skipper training workshops run by the project for Members. The infographics are also available to download at the CCSBT website, as well as partner organisations, the FAO and ACAP. 

The infographics can be found at the ACAP website under “Resources > Bycatch Mitigation” at the following link, https://www.acap.aq/resources/bycatch-mitigation/mitigation-infographics.

6 May 2024

The South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation advertises for the position of Executive Secretary

SPRFMO square unofficial logo

The South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (SPRFMO) is recruiting for the role of Executive Secretary.

An extract from the advertisement is as follows:

"SPRFMO is an international organisation responsible for the conservation and management of non‐highly migratory fishery resources in the Convention Area. The Secretariat of the Commission for the SPRFMO is headquartered in Wellington, New Zealand. The Executive Secretary is responsible for the management and supervision of the Secretariat and the provision of advice to the Commission.

The Executive Secretary is required to carry out, inter alia, the duties provided in Article 14 of the Convention, the Commission’s foundation instruments1, and any other such duties as may be directed by the Commission. In making an appointment to the position of the Executive Secretary, the SPRFMO Commission will be guided by the following selection criteria:

1. Demonstrated management knowledge and skills through relevant experience in national, regional or international organisations;
2. Knowledge or experience of fisheries management;
3. Knowledge or experience of the functions and operations of intergovernmental organisations at the regional or international level;
4. Knowledge or experience of such areas as: preparation of reports, financial budgets and management of expenditures; provision of secretariat support for international meetings; oversight and management of information technology; human resource management.
5. Demonstrated ability to communicate and work constructively and effectively in a multicultural environment with delegates from a wide range of countries, including managers, scientists and technical experts;
6. Fluent in English (the knowledge of other languages of SPRFMO Members would be an asset);
7. University degree or the equivalent, with a preference given to an advanced degree (Master or PhD) or equivalent.

The appointment of the Executive Secretary is for a term of four years. At the discretion of the Contracting Parties of SPRFMO, the Executive Secretary may be re-appointed for a further four years."

The deadline for applications is 1 September 2024 at 17:00 New Zealand Standard Time. Further information on the position can be found at the SPRFMO website, here.

3 May 2024

How many? New aerial surveys of Northern Royal Albatrosses and Northern Giant Petrels in the Chatham Islands

Motuhara Forty Fours Bsarry BakerMotuhara/Forty-Fours from the air, photograph by Barry Baker

Peter Frost (Science Support Service, Whanganui, New Zealand) has reported to the Department of Conservation’s Conservation Service Programme on recent aerial surveys of Northern Royal Albatrosses Diomedea sanfordi and Northern Giant Petrels Macronectes halli on the Chatham Islands.

The report’s Executive Summary follows:

This report covers two aerial surveys of Northern Royal Albatross/Toroa Diomedea sanfordi nesting on Rangitautahi, Te Awanui and Motuhara in the Chatham Islands archipelago during the 2022–23 breeding season. The first survey was carried out on 20 December 2022, approximately mid-way during the birds’ incubation period; the second survey was flown on 16 August 2023, about two weeks before the first chicks were expected to fledge. The number of Northern Giant Petrel/Pāngurunguru Macronectes halli seen in the aerial photographs were also counted on all three islands.

The aim of the surveys and subsequent analyses of the images was to determine the number of birds apparently sitting on nests, and therefore breeding, early in the breeding season, and the number of chicks present in the weeks prior to fledging. From these data, maximum apparent nesting success could be estimated for the 2022–23 breeding season.

Both aerial surveys coincided with the presence of a two-person research team on Motuhara immediately prior to the surveys. The teams counted the overall number of nesting albatrosses in December 2022 (i.e., those birds incubating eggs and the number of recently failed nests), and the number of near-fledging chicks in August 2023. During the latter period the numbers of nesting Northern Giant Petrel were also counted. For both species, these ground counts provided a partial control on the numbers estimated from the aerial photographs.

In December 2022, there were 4,149 apparently occupied Northern Royal Albatross nests across the three islands, 1,744 (42% of the total) on Motuhara, 1,508 (36%) on Rangitautahi and 897 (22%) on Te Awanui. The number calculated for Motuhara is higher than the number of active nests counted there on the ground a week earlier (1,498 nests), most likely because the assumption that the classified birds in the close-up images are a random subset of the whole is flawed. Just under half of the birds seen in the close-up images of Motuhara is higher than the number of active nests counted there on the ground a week earlier (1498 nests), most likely because the assumption that the classified birds in the close-up images are Northern a random subset of the whole is flawed. Just under half of the birds seen in the close-up images of Motuhara could not be classified.

From ground surveys on all three islands since 2017, 7–8% of toroa nests are known to have failed up to mid-incubation. Applying this to the estimates derived from the aerial and ground surveys in December 2022, around 4,330–4,370 pairs of toroa bred on the Chatham Is during the 2022–23 breeding season.

Combining the August 2023 ground count of chicks on Motuhara (1,211, compared with 1204 from the aerial survey), and the aerial survey estimates for Rangitautahi (782) and Te Awanui (587), gives 2,580 near-fledging chicks in 2023.

Overall nesting success for the 2022–23 breeding season is therefore around 59–60%, slightly lower than that calculated solely from the aerial photographic analyses (64%). Both estimates are substantially higher than those recorded in recent years (42–55%).

A total of 2,128 Northern Giant Petrel were [sic] counted from the aerial photographs,of which 93% were on Motuhara. There is much uncertainty around numbers derived from aerial photographic analyses, but those obtained in August 2023 are broadly similar to those counted in earlier years.

preview northernroyal en shrunk
Access this and other ACAP Species Infographics here

Read about a recent ground survey of Motuhara here.

Reference:

Frost, P.G.H. 2023. Nesting Success of Northern Royal Albatross/Toroa Diomedea sanfordi on the Chatham Islands: 2022-23 Breeding Season.  Whanganui: Science Support Service, 16 pp.

John Cooper, Emeritus Information Officer, Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels, 02 May 2024

 

ACAP Secondment to support training for working with albatrosses and petrels during the on-going high pathogenicity H5N1 avian influenza outbreak

HPAI Workshop IAPC7

A pair of Wandering Albatrosses; photo by Melanie Wells. High Pathogenicity Avian Influenza was detected in Wandering Albatrosses on sub-Antarctic islands earlier in 2024

The Agreement on the Conservation of Albatross and Petrels is delighted to announce an opportunity to take part in a training workshop and Q&A session focused on mitigating the impact of high pathogenicity H5N1 avian influenza when working with albatrosses and petrels. 

The workshop and Q&A session, supported by the ACAP Secondment Programme, will take place, 1:30 PM – 6:00 PM (GMT -7), Thursday 23 May 2024, through a hybrid model, with any interested party able to participate either by attending in person at the upcoming Seventh International Albatross and Petrel Conference (IAPC7) in Mexico, or via virtual attendance through registration at the following link, https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_WK4tlr6ARIKnVTSPRSFHBw.

The workshop, which aligns with and expands upon the principles detailed in ACAP’s “Guidelines for working with albatrosses and petrels during the on-going high pathogenicity H5N1 avian influenza outbreak”, aims to improve reaction and mitigation efforts concerning HPAI for albatrosses and petrels and bolster international capacity for early detection and response while minimising further spread. 

The successful proposal to the 2023 round of ACAP’s Secondment Programme was submitted by Patricia Pereira Serafini, Co-convenor of the Agreement’s Population and Conservation Status Working Group (PaCSWG), and lead member of ACAP’s High Pathogenicity H5N1 Avian Influenza Intersessional Group. The HPAI Group consists of thirteen experts on epidemiology, disease risk assessment and management who advise ACAP on issues related to the ongoing H5N1 avian influenza outbreak. 

Patricia says one of the main drivers behind the proposal for the workshop was to create greater awareness of the recommendations contained in the ACAP Guidelines and to contribute to promoting human safety and preventing human-mediated spread of HPAI viruses to ACAP species. She said:

"The current threat presented by HPAI H5N1 to seabirds is unprecedented. The IAPC7 workshop aims to inform stakeholders about strategies for preventing and managing disease risks for ACAP populations and humans in contact with birds and provide insight in adjusting conservation strategies based on evolving disease dynamics. Disseminating ACAP's guidelines and providing training on practical tools for field teams is crucial for effective disease surveillance and mitigation, safeguarding human health and curbing virus spread.”

HPAI H5N1 workshop facilitators 2The four members of the ACAP HPAI H5N1 Intersessional Group who will be facilitating the workshop at IAPC7, from left to right: Jolene Giacinti, Ralph E. T. Vanstreels, Patricia Pereira Serafini and Amandine Gamble.

The workshop and Q&A session will be delivered by four members of the Intersessional Group:

  • Jolene Giacinti, Veterinary Epidemiologist and Wildlife Health Specialist, Environment and Climate Change Canada
  • Ralph E. T. Vanstreels, Latin America Program, Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center, University of California - Davis, USA (based in Patagonia, Argentina)
  • Patricia Pereira Serafini, Federal University of Santa Catarina and National Centre for Wild Birds Conservation and Research –CEMAVE/ICMBio/MMA/Brazil 
  • Amandine Gamble, Department of Public and Ecosystem Health, Cornell University, USA

By supporting the training workshop and Q&A session on high pathogenicity H5N1 avian influenza, and sharing subsequent results and outcomes, this ACAP Secondment will aid in developing monitoring protocols for detecting HPAI in albatrosses and petrels, whilst fostering collaboration among stakeholders to address disease threats.

Registration for IAPC7 is still open, with information available at the conference website, here.

ACAP Latest News will report on the workshop and Q&A session at IAPC7, or follow the conference’s social media channels: Instagram, @iapc7_mx or X, @IAPC7_MX.

Any questions about the Q&A and workshop taking place on Thursday 23 May 2024 can be directed to ACAP Communications Advisor, Bree Forrer, here.

1 May 2024

Keeping it in the family. George and Geraldine’s latest chick gets its bands while older sibling Short-tailed Albatrosses dance together on Midway Atoll

Holly Parsons Short tailed Albatrosses George and Geraldine after Jonathon Plissner
Pointillist portrait of
Short-tailed Albatrosses George and Geraldine by ABUN artist Holly Parsons for ACAP’s World Albatross Day on 19 June, after a photograph by Jonathon Plissner.  Geraldine is the darker bird in front on the nest.  Acrylic on 16x20-inch canvas board

The 2023/24 chick produced by the well-known pair of Vulnerable Short-tailed Albatrosses Phoebastria albatrus on the USA’s Midway Atoll was given its metal and colour bands by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Biologists Laura Brazier and Jon Plissner on 17 April (click here).  This is the fifth chick to be reared (out of six breeding attempts) by the atoll’s lone Short-tail (or Makalena) pair, known affectionately as George and Geraldine.  All four previous chicks successfully fledged and two of them have been seen regularly back on the atoll’s Sand Island as juveniles.

Chick banding 17 April 2024 Jonathon Plissner 2
Held for banding.  The Short-tailed albatross chick is noticeably larger than the surrounding Laysan Albatross chicks, photograph
by Dan Rapp

“The day before [banding] Jon Plissner and the Papahānaumokuākea Marine Debris Project crew observed much more than just the 4-month-old chick that is often left alone at this age.  The father was sitting next to the chick as the mother was snoozing close by and two of the chick's siblings, one that hatched in 2019 the other in 2022, were dancing with each other within a few feet of the nest.  Perhaps one day this exciting and additional Makalena activity will attract other mature birds from across the Pacific to join them.”  So will the second pair of Short-tailed Albatrosses to breed on Sand Island be brother and sister?

Chick banding 17 April 2024 Jonathon Plissner 4 
The 2023/24 Short-tailed Albatross chick gets plastic colour band green AA01 on its left leg
, photograph by Dan Rapp

Access previous posts to ACAP Latest News about George and Geraldine here, and view more paintings of Short-tailed Albatrosses produced by Artists & Biologists Unite for Nature (ABUN) for this year’s World Albatross Day and its theme “Marine Protected Areas – Safeguarding our Oceans” in an ACAP Facebook photo album.

Other news from Midway is of the latest annual nest count of Black-footed P. nigripes and Laysan P. immutabilis Albatrosses as reported on the Facebook page of the United States Fish & Wildlife Service.

“Every December for over 30 years, a dozen incredible volunteers arrive at the atoll in the middle of the Pacific Ocean to count every Laysan (mōlī) and black-footed albatross (ka’upu) nests.  It takes weeks of systematic walking, hand counting, and in some cases, methodically repeating a specific section to double check.  This year the team counted nearly 500,000 mōlī nests and a little less than 30,000 ka’upu nests.  The counts typically rise and fall in alternating years, sometimes by as much as 20%, and the reason for the pattern remains unknown.”

Watch a video of Midway’s annual albatross count in progress by Dan Rapp, United States Fish & Wildlife Service.

John Cooper, Emeritus Information Officer, Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels, 30 April 2024

The Agreement on the
Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

ACAP is a multilateral agreement which seeks to conserve listed albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters by coordinating international activity to mitigate known threats to their populations.

About ACAP

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Email: secretariat@acap.aq
Tel: +61 3 6165 6674