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Research on Chatham Islands to bolster data on Motuhara’s populations of Northern Royal and Buller’s Albatrosses and Northern Giant Petrels

CSP Report MotuharaFrom the report: Fig 1. A tail mounted Telonics PTT device (A) and a body-harness mounted TechnoSmart PTT device (B) fitted to a Northern Buller’s Albatross. The latter was fitted as a test for a couple of hours only.

A report by Mike Bell and Dave Bell (Toroa Consulting) and Carlos Zavalaga (Universidad Científica del Sur, Lima, Perú) has been released by the Conservation Services Programme of New Zealand’s Department of Conservation. The report is part of an ongoing long-term research project that began in 2021 on populations of Northern Royal and Buller’s albatrosses and Northern Giant Petrels on the Chatham Islands’ Motuhara. 

The report’s summary follows:

“Northern Royal Albatross (Diomedea sanfordi), Northern Buller’s Mollymawk (Thalassarche bulleri platei) and Northern Giant Petrel (Macronectes halli) all have significant breeding populations on Motuhara (43⁰96’S, 175⁰83’W). Although research has been undertaken periodically since the 1970’s on these islands, more recently a long-term research project on Motuhara has been initiated since January 2021. Some aspects of this work have been funded by the Department of Conservation’s various programmes, including the Conservation Services Programme and the Budget22 International Seabird Conservation Initiative.

In January 2024, a 10-day field trip to Motuhara was carried out to undertake seabird research. Aims of the trip were varied and included:

  1. Deploying PTT satellite transmitters on Northern Royal Albatross and Northern Buller’s Mollymawk, including the trialling of a novel leg-loop harness attachment method (DOC AEC 453)
  2. Deploying and recovering i-got-u GPS loggers on Northern Buller’s Mollymawk
  3. Retrieving previously deployed GLS loggers on Northern Buller’s Mollymawk, Cape Petrels (Daption capense), and Pyramid Prions (Pachyptila pyramidalis)
  4. Census breeding Northern Royal Albatross and Northern Buller’s Mollymawk
  5. Resighting banded Northern Royal Albatross and Northern Buller’s Mollymawk at various study colonies
  6. Retrieving trail cameras set up to recording breeding activity at Northern Royal Albatross, Northern Buller’s Mollymawk, and Northern Giant Petrel breeding areas
  7. Banding another cohort of Northern Giant Petrel chicks

This report provides a summary of the trip and the associated raw data. Similarly to previous trip reports, no species analyses of data are included, as all these species are long-lived, and demographic data hasn’t been collected for enough years to warrant analyses. This report aims to provide data of the trip’s findings in a similar format to previous trip reports (e.g., Bell 2023).

Unlike previous trips, however, this trip included an additional international component in the form of a secondee from Perú to New Zealand: Carlos Zavalaga (Director de la Unidad de Investigación de Ecosistemas Marinos, Grupo Aves Marinas, Universidad Científica del Sur, Lima, Perú) joined the trip assist with the field research and further strengthen the connection and collaboration between Perú and New Zealand on the conservation of seabirds that are shared between the two countries, including Northern Buller’s Albatross.”

Publication information

Bell, M. 2024. Motuhara seabird research: field trip report January 2024. Report prepared by Toroa Consulting Limited for the Department of Conservation. 8 pp. 

29 April 2024

The latest issue of the Mouse-Free Marion Quarterly Newsletter has been released

Mouse Free Marion Newsletter No. 9 cover
The Mouse-Free Marion (MFM) Project is a non-profit company registered in South Africa and established to eradicate the invasive albatross-killing House Mice Mus musculus on Marion Island in the Southern Ocean.  The project was initiated by BirdLife South Africa and the South African Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment.  “Upon successful completion, the project will restore the critical breeding habitat of over two million seabirds, many globally threatened, and improve the island’s resilience to a warming climate”.

The latest issue (No. 9 of April 2024) of the project’s quarterly newsletter has been released. Following on from a Welcome editorial by Robyn Adams, MFM Communications Officer and Project Assistant, the newsletter gives information of the MFM Project’s recent activities under the heads:

  • Out of office at Marion Island. The MFM Project Manager and new MFM Project overwintering team member head to Marion Island as part of the annual relief voyage.
  • Planning for success: The Mouse-Free Marion Project brings together experts at a Mouse-Eradication Workshop.
  • MFM Patron, Peter Harrison MBE, visits the Mouse-Free Marion Project’s Cape Town office.

Wanderer chick after attack 21.06.2023 Michelle Risi 2
Vulnerable Wandering Albatross
Diomedea exulans chick has been attacked by mice on Marion Island; it did not survive, 21 June 2023, photograph by Michelle Risi

Previous issues of the newsletter may be found on the project’s website.

With thanks to Robyn Adams, MFM Communications Officer and Project Assistant.

John Cooper, Emeritus Information Officer, Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels, 25 April 2024

Lessons and trends from three decades of Australian threatened bird action plans highlighted in a special edition of Emu – Austral Ornithology


A special issue of the journal Emu – Austral Ornithology reports on Australian avian biodiversity over three decades of Australian threatened bird action plans between 1990 – 2020.

The edition contains nine open access papers on topics related to the edition’s theme, ‘Threats to Australian Birds’.

An extract from the edition’s Introduction, Trends and lessons from thirty years of Australian threatened bird action plans, by Stephen T. Garnett (Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods, Charles Darwin University, NT, Australia) and colleagues follows: 

“International concern for declining bird species figured prominently in the formation of many ornithological, conservation and scientific organisations across the globe in the late 19th Century, including the Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union (now BirdLife Australia; Robin Citation2001). However, despite concerns about the rarity of some species being expressed repeatedly in the early years of the Union (e.g. Ashby Citation1924), little action was taken to prevent extinctions. As a consequence, it was only in the late 20th century that the first systematic attempt was made to document which Australian bird species were most threatened with extinction (Brouwer and Garnett Citation1990).

Shortly after this documentation, the Australian Federal Government passed the first national legislation targeting threatened species, the Endangered Species Act 1992. The government also funded the first action plans for Australian threatened species, including the first Action Plan for Australian Birds (Garnett Citation1992). This plan had two important consequences. First, it created a foundation of information on the extinction risk of Australian birds on which later assessments could build. Secondly, the Plan established the ultrataxon (monotypic species or subspecies of polytypic species; Schodde and Mason Citation1999), as the basic unit for Australian bird conservation action. Continued support from the Australian government and the ornithological community has since enabled three other Action Plans to be written at intervals of about 10 years (Garnett and Crowley Citation2000; Garnett et alCitation2011; Garnett and Baker Citation2021). Each has improved on its predecessor, incorporating new knowledge and insights and expanding the range of sources of information.

It is on these four Action Plans and the data that underpins them that the current special issue of Emu – Austral Ornithology builds. These repeated reviews reveal trends not only in extinction risk to Australian birds but also about the threats they face, the extent of our knowledge and management and the directions Australian threatened bird conservation may go in the future.”


Garnett, S. T., Burbidge, A. H., & Pruett-Jones, S. (2024). Trends and lessons from thirty years of Australian threatened bird action plans. Emu - Austral Ornithology124(1), 1–7.


Emu - Austral Ornithology, Volume 124, Issue 1 (2024)

Table of Contents

Trends and lessons from thirty years of Australian threatened bird action plans by Stephen T. Garnett et al.

Extinct Australian birds: numbers, characteristics, lessons and prospects by John C. Z. Woinarski et al.

Trends in Monitoring of Australia’s Threatened Birds (1990–2020): Much Improved but Still Inadequate by Simon J. Verdon et al.    

Monitoring threats to Australian threatened birds: climate change was the biggest threat in 2020 with minimal progress on its management by Stephen T. Garnett et al.

Trends and patterns in the extinction risk of Australia’s birds over three decades by Alex J. Berryman et al.

Australian threatened birds for which the risk of extinction declined between 1990 and 2020 by Stephen T. Garnett et al.

Biological characteristics of Australian threatened birds by George Olah et al.

The feasibility of implementing management for threatened birds in Australia by Ross Crates et al.

Imperilled birds and First Peoples’ land and sea Country in Australia by Amanda Lilleyman et al.

Declining but not (yet) threatened: a challenge for avian conservation in Australia by Andrew F. Bennet et al.


24 April 2024

The Tristan da Cunha Marine Protection Zone receives a Blue Park Award “in recognition of exceptional marine biodiversity conservation”

Tristan MPZ 1
The Tristan
Marine Protection Zone.  Infographic from Atlantic Guardians

A 687 247-km² Marine Protection Zone (MPZ) around the UK’s Tristan da Cunha-Gough Islands in the South Atlantic that includes its entire Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) was promulgated in August 2021 (click here).  The territorial waters and EEZ around the islands of Gough, Inaccessible, Nightingale (with its islets of Middle and Stoltenhoff) and Tristan that form the group support large breeding seabird populations, including of six ACAP-listed albatrosses and petrels, three of which are endemic to the island group.

On 17 April this year the Tristan MPZ received a gold Blue Park Award at the 9th Our Ocean Conference in recognition of exceptional marine biodiversity conservation (click here).  An international council of marine conservation experts, assembled by the Marine Conservation Institute, selected this year’s Blue Park Award winners “using criteria based on the science of marine protected area effectiveness”.  The MPZ joins “a growing network of 30 awarded Blue Parks around the global ocean that have met the highest science-based standards for conservation effectiveness”.  To date, Blue Parks cover over 3.5 million square kilometres of ocean, spanning 23 countries.

tristan abatross incubating inaccessible 2 katrine herian
A Critically Endangered and endemic Tristan Albatross
Diomedea dabbenena breeds on Inaccessible Island in 2012, photograph by Katrine Herian

“On behalf of all the community, we are delighted to receive this Blue Park Award in recognition of Tristan da Cunha’s Marine Protection Zone,” said Janine Lavarello, Tristan da Cunha's Marine Protection Zone Officer. “We are committed to maintaining these high standards to ensure Tristan’s waters are protected now, and for future generations.  This Blue Park Award will raise the global profile of our Marine Protection Zone and island, giving us a platform to share our approaches to safeguarding our amazing wildlife and managing our Marine Stewardship Council-certified fishery.”

preview sooty eng
The Tristan-Gough Island Group is a stronghold for the Endangered Sooty Albatross
Phoebetria fusca, download this ACAP Species Infographic from here

Tristan da Cunha is the second Blue Park awarded in a United Kingdom Overseas Territory, following the 850 000-square kilometre Pitcairn Islands MPA in 2023. Read more about the Tristan MPZ here.

This year ACAP has chosen the theme “Marine Protected Areas - Safeguarding our Oceans” for the fifth World Albatross Day in 2024, to be marked on 19 June.

John Cooper, Emeritus Information Officer, Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels, 23 April 2024

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) advertises vacancy for Project Officer (Fishery/Technical Adviser)

FAO logo

The FAO is seeking a suitable candidate for the position of Project Officer (Fishery/Technical Adviser) with its Fisheries and Aquaculture Division (NFI) for the project, 'Sustainable Management of Tuna Fisheries and Biodiversity Conservation in the Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction'. The post is a fixed-term one year position, with the possibility of extension and is located within the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) in the Fisheries and Aquaculture Division (NFI) at FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy.

The project is one of the five of the GEF-7 Common Oceans II Programme 'Global Sustainable Fisheries Management and Biodiversity Conservation in the Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ)'. The objective of the project is to achieve responsible, efficient and sustainable tuna production and biodiversity conservation in the ABNJ in face of a changing environment.

The Key Functions of the position as described in the Job Description are as follows:

  • Provides technical leadership assistance on the development, implementation and evaluation of assigned programmes/projects; assists in the review of relevant documents and reports; identifies priorities, liaises with relevant parties.
  • Coordinates of programmes and reviews the assessments of issues and trends for the implementation of programmes and projects and the preparation of impact evaluation or equivalent studies.
  • Supervises preparation of various written outputs, e.g. background papers, analysis, substantial sections of reports and studies, inputs to publications.
  • Contributes to consultative and other meetings, conferences, including proposals for agenda topics, identifying participants, preparation of documents and presentations.
  • Participates in activities such as structuring of training workshops, seminars; makes presentations on assigned topics/activities.
  • Leads field missions, including provision of guidance to external consultants, government officials and other parties.
  • Provides advice on the development of policies and strategies, as well as national protocols and guidelines for projects with specific domains related to FAO's work.

Further details on the post, including how to apply, can be found at the FAO Vacancies page, here.

22 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.

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