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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Concern expressed over the conservation status of New Zealand’s Black Petrel

Kate Waterhouse has provided an update on the conservation status of the ACAP-listed and Vulnerable Black Petrel Procellaria parkinsoni in the latest newsletter of the Great Barrier Environmental Trust.  The species breeds only on Great and Little Barrier Islands in New Zealand’s Hauraki Gulf off North Island.  Both island populations are at risk to interactions with fisheries and only Little Barrier is free of introduced predators.

Black Petrel, photograph by David Boyle

A storm on Great Barrier earlier this year caused damage to the Black Petrel’s breeding sites on the island (click here).

Click here for an earlier article on the Black Petrel by Kate Waterhouse in Great Barrier Environmental Trust Environmental News.


Waterhouse, K. 2014.  Dive, dig, fly thousands of miles.  An update on our endangered Black Petrel.  Great Barrier Environmental Trust Environmental News 33: 14-17.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 22 October 2014

Report of the latest ACAP Advisory Committee meeting announces the Fifth Meeting of Parties will convene in Spain’s Canary Islands on Tenerife next May

The Eighth Meeting of ACAP’s Advisory Committee was held in Punta del Este, Uruguay last month.  The meeting’s final report is now available on line (click here).

Ten of the 13 Parties to the Agreement attended the meeting, which was chaired by Marco Favero of Argentina.  In addition, three non-Party range states (Canada, Namibia and the United States of America) were present.  Four NGOs attended as observers.


Southern Royal Albatrosses on Enderby Island, photograph by Barry Baker

The Eighth Meeting of the Advisory Committee was informed that the Government of Spain has offered to host the Fifth Session of the ACAP Meeting of the Parties in Santa Cruz, Tenerife, Canary Islands over 4-8 May 2015.  This will be the first time that Spain will host a meeting of ACAP, when it will become the 12th Party to do so.

Reports of the meetings in Uruguay of the Advisory Committee’s Population and Conservation Status and Seabird Bycatch Working Groups were considered by the Advisory Committee.  They are available on line via the ACAP website’s home page.

Other news from the meeting is that the current Executive Secretary, Warren Papworth will retire at the end of next year, engendering the need to appoint a new person to the position.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 21 October 2014

ACAP presents a report on seabird bycatch in adjacent fisheries to the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources this week

At its thirty-second meeting last year in Hobart, Australia the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) requested ACAP to provide information on the levels of seabird bycatch in fisheries adjacent to the CCAMLR Convention Area.

Accordingly, the ACAP Secretariat and Convenor of the ACAP Seabird Bycatch Working Group have produced a summary of the most recent bycatch and related information held by ACAP, along with the current status of the process to develop a bycatch data reporting and assessment framework to present to this year’s round of CCAMLR meetings.

ACAP’s report to CCAMLR notes that the work is an ongoing one, and that the information provided represents that which has been provided by ACAP Parties to date, and that these data have not yet been further assessed or analysed.  In relation to Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) the report states that there is a general need to improve levels of bycatch reporting, and in some cases to develop or refine data collection and reporting protocols, so that levels of seabird bycatch and the efficacy of mitigation measures required can be properly assessed and monitored.  The report highlights initiatives that are currently underway to help address these needs.

At risk: birds gather around a Patagonian trawler, photo by Juan Pablo Seco Pon

ACAP is being represented at the Thirty-third Meeting of CCAMLR’s Scientific Committee by its Science Officer, Wiesława Misiak and at the Commission’s meeting by its Executive Secretary, Warren Papworth.

Click here to read of ACAP’s attendance at last year’s CCAMLR meetings in Hobart.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 20 October 2014

Australia’s sub-Antarctic Heard Island and McDonald Islands get a new management plan

A new Management Plan for Australia's Heard Island and McDonald Islands Marine Reserve (HIMI) in the southern Indian Ocean was approved by the Federal Government at the beginning of the month, replacing the previous plan adopted in 2005 (click here).

The Heard Island and McDonald Islands Marine Reserve Management Plan 2014-2024 covers 71 200 km² of terrestrial and marine areas.  The new manplan includes 6200 km² of marine waters, supporting distinct benthic habitats, species and ecosystems, which were added to the Reserve in March this year (click here).

Roger's Head, Heard Island, photporaph by Barbara Wienecke

McDonald Island on the horizon, photograph by Phil Moors

HIMI is located about 4000 km south-west of mainland Australia in the southern Indian Ocean. The islands are Australia’s largest International Union for Conservation of Nature 1a Strict Nature Reserve and home to Australia’s only active volcano, Big Ben, rising 2745 m above sea level.  The islands were inscribed on the World Heritage List in December 1997 on the basis of their outstanding natural universal values.

Heard and the McDonald Islands support populations of ACAP-listed Black-browed Thalassarche melanophris and Light-mantled Sooty Phoebetria palpebrata Albatrosses and Southern Giant Petrels Macronectes giganteus.  A single pair of Wandering Albatrosses Diomedea exulans has attempted breeding on the island in the past.

“The first management plan for the Reserve was in effect from 24 August 2005 to 23 August 2012.  The substance of the second management plan is largely consistent with that of the first management plan.  The second management plan is, however, more attuned to the logistical constraints associated with the Reserve’s harsh environment and extreme isolation.  “Reasonableness” qualifications have therefore been applied to some of the second management plan’s objectives.”

Read a previous ACAP Latest News posting on the new HIMI manplan here.

Selected Literature:

Australian Antarctic Division 2005.  Heard Island and McDonald Islands Marine Reserve Management Plan.  Kingston: Australian Antarctic Division.  198 pp.

Commonwealth of Australia 2014.  Heard Island and McDonald Islands Marine Reserve Management Plan 2014-2024.  Canberra: Department of the Environment.  131 pp.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 19 October 2014

Canada updates its assessment of the conservation status of the Short-tailed Albatross, a non-breeding visitor to its Pacific waters

In 2003 Canada’s Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife (COSEWIC) designated the Short-tailed Albatross Phoebastria albatrus which visits waters off British Columbia as Threatened.

This threatened status was re-examined and confirmed in November 2013 as set out in a recently released report that updates the original one of 2003.

The first and last paragraphs of the 2014 report’s Executive Summary follow:

“The Short-tailed Albatross is the largest North Pacific seabird and, like all albatrosses, is adapted for long-distance oceanic travel.  The species was hunted for its feathers and came close to extinction in the 1940s as a result, but is now recovering because of careful management by Japanese biologists.  Before the feather harvest, Short-tailed Albatrosses were common off the coasts of the eastern Pacific, but are now rare non-breeding visitors (immatures or adults not actively breeding) primarily to continental shelf areas off British Columbia (1-10 birds, mostly juveniles, observed each  year since 1995).

Globally, the species is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN.  The colony at Torishima is well protected but the Minami-kojima colony is in the hotly disputed Senkaku archipelago.  There are effective measures to reduce bycatch in U.S. and Canadian fisheries, but there seems to be little effort to protect these birds from bycatch in Japanese, Russian and international waters.  In Canada, the species is listed as Threatened on Schedule 1 of the federal Species at Risk Act.  In the U.S. the species is listed as Endangered throughout its range under the Endangered Species Act, and in Japan it is listed as a Natural Monument and a Special Bird for Protection.”

Short-tailed Albatross at sea, photograph by Aleks Terauds

The report is also available in French with the title Ếvaluation et Rapport de situation du COSEPAC sur L’Albatros à queue courte (Phoebastria albatrus) au Canada.

With thanks to Ken Morgan and Richard Phillips for information.


COSEWIC 2013.  COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Short-tailed Albatross Phoebastria albatrus in Canada.  Ottawa: Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.   xii + 55 pp.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 18 October 2014