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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Tenth Meeting of ACAP’s Advisory Committee to be held in Wellington, New Zealand in September

The Tenth Meeting of ACAP’s Advisory Committee (AC10) will be held from Monday, 11 September to Friday, 15 September 2017, in the CQ Comfort and Quality Hotels, Wellington, New Zealand.

Meetings of the Seabird Bycatch Working Group, and the Population and Conservation Status Working Group will precede AC10 at the same venue (SBWG8 from Monday 4 to Wednesday 6 September, and PaCSWG4 from Thursday 7 to Friday 8 September).

A Heads of Delegation meeting will be convened on Sunday, 10 September 2017 in the late afternoon/ evening. As decided during AC9, a workshop on the conservation of gadfly petrels Pterodroma and other small burrowing petrel species will be held on Saturday 9 September 2017. 

Chatham Albatross at The Snares - a New Zealand endemic, photograph by Matt Charteris

Read about submission deadline dates for meeting documents and for applications to attend as observers here.

Information on registration and other meeting arrangements will be provided in Meeting Circular No 2.  This circular is also available in French and Spanish.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 13 January 2017

Young Explorers paint albatrosses at sea and raise 860 Euro to help ACAP’s flyback trials

The Fifth Session of the Meeting of the Parties to ACAP in 2015 approved the Advisory Committee Work Programme for the period 2016 to 2018 which inter alia recommended that “priority actions be taken to advance implementation of line weighting in pelagic longline fisheries”.  The Seventh Meeting of ACAP’s Seabird Bycatch Working Group held last year in Chile considered independent research undertaken at the Australian Maritime College (AMC) of the University of Tasmania concerning the relative safety of branch line weighting specifications in pelagic longline fisheries.

The AMC research conducted in 2016 indicated that the incidence of fly-backs and safety consequences were strongly influenced by the type of weights used and their distance from the hook.  The Working Group recommended extending the research to include using 80-g weights (which were not available at the time of the trials) and to test hook tear-outs (where the branch line is not cut).  The Ninth Meeting of the Advisory Committee held immediately afterwards incorporated the Working Group’s recommendations into its updated work programme.

Last year the 13 Parties to the Albatross and Petrel Agreement authorised the ACAP Secretariat to be the recipient of a fund-raising effort by Abercrombie and Kent Philanthropy to support Stage 2 of the fly-back trials that will be conducted at the Australian Maritime College this year.  Abercrombie & Kent is a tourism company that undertakes expeditions in the Antarctic, Arctic and in other remote areas.  It established Abercrombie and Kent Philanthropy to support various projects around the World.

 “Creating ambassadors amongst young people is vital for sensitive species and for remote ecosystems such as sub-Antarctic islands in the Southern Ocean.  Such is the aim of the Young Explorers Science Enhancement Programme run by Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy aboard the m.v. Le Lyrial during the holiday season on their family Antarctica voyages.”

Motivated by their sightings of albatrosses at sea and by the onboard Young Explorers programme, the children aboard a recent voyage decided to paint water colours of the birds they had seen.  A ‘silent auction’ of the paintings was then held among the passengers with the proceeds being donated to ACAP.


Young Explorers hard at work drawing albatrosses for the auction

Yellow bill, eye stripe and underwing pattern identifies this Young Explorer's painting as depicting a Black-browed Albatross

Abercrombie and Kent Philanthropy reports “The children were delighted with the response and proudly announced they had raised 860 Euros for the cause.  This is fantastic evidence of the power of enabling our future generations with first-hand experience and knowledge.”

Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy has previously supported the development of an underwater bait setter, and also a hook-shielding device (the ‘hook-pod’) which has recently been adopted as an ACAP best-practice mitigation measure for use in pelagic longline fisheries.

Voluntary contributions may be accepted under Regulation 7.2 of the ACAP Financial Regulations, subject to agreement by the Meeting of the Parties that the purposes of the contribution are consistent with the policies, aims and activities of the Agreement.


Salvin's Albatross at sea, photograph by Aleks Terauds

ACAP expresses it thanks to the participating children and to Abercrombie and Kent Philanthropy and the A&K staff aboard Le Lyrial for their support.


McCormack, E & Rawlinson, N. 2016. The relative safety of the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP) recommended minimum specifications for the weighting of branchlines during simulated fly-backs [summary only].  SBWG7 Doc 08.  4 pp.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 12 January 2017

Decreasing numbers of albatrosses on South Georgia (Islas Georgias del Sur) considered due to fisheries bycatch

Sally Poncet and colleagues have published in the journal Polar Biology on recent trends in numbers of ACAP-listed Wandering Diomedea exulans, Black-browed Thalassarche melanophris and Grey-headed T. chrysostoma Albatrosses breeding at South Georgia (Islas Georgias del Sur)*.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“South Georgia supports globally important populations of seabirds, including the wandering albatross Diomedea exulans, black-browed albatross Thalassarche melanophris and grey-headed albatross T. chrysostoma, currently classified by the world Conservation Union (IUCN) as vulnerable, near threatened and endangered, resprectively. Surveys of these species at South Georgia were conducted during the incubation stage in November 2014 to January 2015, repeating previous surveys conducted in the 2003/2004 season. Numbers of wandering albatrosses breeding annually at South Georgia decreased by 18% (1.8% per year) from 1553 pairs in 2003/2004 to an estimated 1278 pairs in 2014/2015. Over the same period, black-browed and grey-headed albatrosses decreased by 19% (1.9% per year) and 43% (5% per year), respectively. These represent a continuation of negative trends at South Georgia since the 1970s and are in contrast to some populations elsewhere, which have shown signs of recent recovery. Given the importance of South Georgia for these species, the ongoing population declines, and in the case of grey-headed albatrosses, an acceleration of the decline is of major conservation concern. Incidental fisheries mortality (bycatch) is currently considered to be the main threat. Although seabird bycatch has been reduced to negligible levels in the fisheries operating around South Georgia, wider implementation of effective seabird bycatch mitigation measures is required to improve the conservation status of the South Georgia populations of wandering, black-browed and grey-headed albatrosses. In addition, more research is required to investigate the respective roles of bycatch and climate change in driving these population trends.”


Grey-headed Albatross on Bird Island, South Georgia (Islas Georgias del Sur), photograph by Richard Phillips

 With thanks to Jen Lee and Anton Wolfaardt.


Poncet, S., Wolfaardt, A.C., Black, A., Browning, S., Lawton, K., Lee, J., Passfield, K., Strange, G., Phillips, R.A. 2017.  Recent trends in numbers of wandering (Diomedea exulans), black-browed (Thalassarche melanophris) and grey-headed (T. chrysostoma) albatrosses breeding at South Georgia.  Polar Biology  doi:10.1007/s00300-016-2057-0.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 11 January 2017

*A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (Islas Georgias del Sur y Islas Sandwich del Sur) and the surrounding maritime areas.

A movement ecology framework for albatrosses

Sarah Gutowsky (Department of Biology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada) has published early online in the free-access journal Marine Ornithology on developing a conceptual framework for the drivers of albatross movements at sea utilizing bio-logging information from a total of 117 peer-reviewed papers published between 1990 and 2015 and covering 20 of the 22 albatross species.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“The objective of movement ecology is to understand the connections among factors that drive why, when, where, and how organisms move. The basic movement ecology framework (MEF) envisions how four major components (internal state, navigation capacity, motion capacity, and external elements) interact to generate an individual’s movement path. Empirical studies of movement have become increasingly sophisticated as a result of advancements in animal-attached biologging technologies that estimate movement paths. These tools have been applied extensively in the study of marine animal movement, particularly the highly mobile and threatened albatrosses (Diomedeidae). Despite the volume of albatross-biologging movement research, the complex factors and processes that govern the movements of these birds have not before been unified into a comprehensive framework. This paper aims to accomplish two main objectives: (1) integration of ideas from across disciplines to build a custom MEF for albatross, resulting in the identification of 45 discrete factors and their interactions; and (2) use of this MEF to survey the albatross-biologging movement literature for trends, shortcomings, and future directions. As the sophistication of analytical and biologging tools continues to grow, so too will the breadth and complexity of processes invoked and investigated to explain albatross movements at all spatiotemporal scales.”

A Wandering Albatross at sea: the most tracked species, photograph by John Chardine


Gutowsky, S.E. 2017. A conceptual framework for the drivers of albatross movement. Marine Ornithology 45: 23-38.

Appendix 1: Supplementary Information — Results of albatross-biologging movement literature review

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 10 January 2017

Rats preying upon seabird eggs: an experimental test

Nina O’Hanlon (Department of Biology, University of York, UK) and Mark Lambert have published in the European Journal of Wildlife Research on testing rat predation on seabird eggs using artificial nests.

The paper’s abstract follows:

"Introduced rat species have been implicated in the decline and local extirpation of numerous seabird species from islands across the globe, leading to widespread eradications as a conservation tool. However, little conclusive evidence has been established to determine the direct mechanisms in which rat and seabird species interact. This study aimed to quantify rates of egg predation by brown rats Rattus norvegicus using automated trail cameras at seabird nests baited with domestic quail and hen eggs to represent different-sized seabird eggs. The trail cameras were in situ for a total of 915 days during June and July 2011. Evidence for rats visiting the experimental nests was only observed at one location, where 19 visits were recorded, and no evidence of rat predation on hen or quail eggs was observed. Low levels of rat activity were observed during the study; therefore, it is not possible to conclude that rats never predate [sic] seabird eggs as predation may be more likely when rat densities are higher and pressure on food resources greater. This study does however highlight that where rats occur at low densities, predation of eggs is unlikely. Measures aimed at maintaining low abundance of rats in and around vulnerable seabird colonies may therefore be useful where complete eradication is not feasible, although potential for predation of chicks should also be considered.”

Manx Shearwater: at risk to rodents; photograph by Nathan Fletcher


O’Hanlon, N.J. & Lambert, M.S 2017.  Investigating brown rat Rattus norvegicus egg predation using experimental nests and camera traps.  European Journal of Wildlife Research.  doi:10.1007/s10344-016-1063-4.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 09 January 2017

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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