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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The ACAP-listed Balearic Shearwater retains its Critically Endangered status in the European Red List of Birds

The ACAP-listed Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus has a global threatened status of Critically Endangered (click here).  Following a new assessment at a European level its threatened status has been retained in the recently released European Red List of Birds (click here).

Conservation actions proposed include “control and eradicate introduced predators (with particular emphasis on carnivores) in breeding colonies identified as at risk.  Thoroughly study the problem of bycatch by long-line fishing and develop awareness campaigns directed at the fishing sector, in order to mitigate this threat, plus assess and implement the appropriate mitigation measures.  Ensure effective protection for nesting sites and marine hotspots, and the implementation of monitoring schemes and management plans.  Develop a rapid response plan for a potential oil spill close to main feeding and breeding areas.  Raise awareness and stop human exploitation.  Study small pelagic fish populations in the western Mediterranean and in the Bay of Biscay to assess extent of overexploitation and how this affects the species.  Assess the impact of pollutants and heavy metals on this species.  Improve understanding of at-sea distribution, including during the non-breeding season.”

 

Balearic Shearwater in the hand, photograph by Daniel Oro

Conservation assessments are included in the red list for all the 15 procellariiform species that breed within the European region as defined, including the Yelkouan Shearwater P. yelkouan (click here) and four other Puffinus and Calonectris Shearwaters.

Reference:

BirdLife International 2015.  European Red List of Birds.  Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 02 August 2015

BirdLife’s Albatross Task Force publishes its annual report

The Albatross Task Force has released is annual highlights report, accessible on the Marine Programme website of BirdLife International.

The Albatross Task Force is an international team of expert practitioners of seabird bycatch mitigation measures, and is built on the foundations of a small but highly dedicated group of individuals supported by the BirdLife International network of partners and local host conservation organisations.  This year the joint effort of the teams has racked up over 700 days at sea in 15 fisheries, across eight countries and two continents.  While on shore, the teams have managed a combined effort of 850 meetings, port visits and outreach events reaching at least 13,800 fishery stakeholders, officials and members of the public to generate a wider understanding and awareness of the urgent need to reduce the unsustainable incidental capture of vulnerable seabirds.

The main objective of the Task Force is to reduce bycatch of albatross and petrels in targeted fisheries, and ultimately to improve the conservation status of threatened seabirds.  Since the inception of the ATF with a single team in South Africa in 2006, the RSPB now supports trained mitigation instructors in seven countries, employing 17 team members.  The principal duties of the ATF include identifying fisheries which pose the greatest risk to seabirds, and developing, demonstrating and implementing best practice measures to reduce seabird bycatch to negligible levels.  Our work consistently results in clear demonstrations that seabird bycatch can be reduced by >90% once the right combination of mitigation measures are deployed.

Our first team in South Africa has led the field, with a multi-year study reflecting a 99% reduction in albatross mortality in the trawl fishery.  Other ATF teams, which began operations in 2008, are now beginning to follow suit with the introduction of new regulations to protect vulnerable seabirds in some of the world’s bycatch “hotspots”.”

 

Poster by Jamie Watts

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 01 August 2015

Scopoli’s Shearwaters as ecological indicators in the western Mediterranean: a post-doctorate opportunity comes up in France

David Grémillet and Aurélien Besnard (Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive, Montpellier, France) are looking for a one- or two-year post-doctoral student to verify and establish the status of Scopoli’s Shearwaters Calonectris diomedea as ecological indicators in the western Mediterranean.

“Multi-year, multicolony GPS-tracking showed that shearwaters (Scopoli and Yelkouan) extensively use coastal areas along the French Mediterranean coast, and the Gulf of Lion area.  Further, the Parc National des Calanques off Marseille has been performing >20 year monitoring of the vital rates of Scopoli’s shearwaters breeding on the Island of Riou, on the basis of >200 individually-marked breeding adults. Both GPS-tracking and population monitoring show that shearwaters are, for a series of ecological and practical reasons, serious candidates as ecological indicators.”

“The Post Doc will explore two sets of state variables, and their functional links with environmental parameters:

1) The reproductive performance and annual survival rates of adult shearwaters, as determined through a >20 year mark-recapture study of individually-marked birds, will be confronted with environmental conditions, both at their Mediterranean breeding site and across their non-breeding migratory areas in the Atlantic.

2) The at-sea home-range and foraging effort of birds are also tightly linked to marine resources, and the ecological state of the western Mediterranean during the breeding season.”

Scopoli’s Shearwater, photograph by Pep Arcos

Send CV and motivation letter to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 1 September 2015.

Read more here.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 31 July 2015

BirdLife International proposes down-listing the threatened status of the Yelkouan Shearwater from Vulnerable to Least Concern

The Yelkouan Shearwater Puffinus yelkouan is endemic to the Mediterranean and Black Seas, breeding from France and Algeria east to Greece and Bulgaria; breeding is also suspected in Turkey, but still not proven.  It is currently listed as Vulnerable, because when last assessed it was considered to be undergoing a rapid population decline.

"Globally, it has an extremely large range (c. 3 million km2), and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criteria (B and D2).  Its population size is also moderately large (with 39 000 – 62 000 mature individuals in Europe alone and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criteria (C and D1).  Therefore, the only potentially relevant criterion is A, which relates to reductions in population size.  Until recently, the population was thought to be declining rapidly at a rate which, if continued over three generations (54 years, based on a generation length estimated by BirdLife to be 18 years), may have resulted in an overall population decline of >30% (the threshold for listing as Vulnerable under criterion A).

New data collated from across Europe for the European Red List of Birds suggest that the species is no longer declining.  A combination of official data reported by 27 EU Member States to the European Commission under Article 12 of the EU Birds Directive and comparable data from other European countries, provided by BirdLife Partners and other leading national ornithologists, suggest that the European breeding population is now increasing overall, with stable or increasing trends in those countries with the largest populations (Italy, Greece and Malta, which together hold c. 95% of the European breeding population).  Consequently, the species is now classified as Least Concern at European level.

Europe holds >95% of the global breeding population and range, with the remainder in NW Africa, so the species’ status in Europe effectively determines its global status.  Despite the threats perceived to be facing the species when last assessed (see current global factsheet for details), its population has not continued to decline overall.  Furthermore, the increasing numbers reported from the breeding colonies correspond well with those counted moving through the Bosphorus in February (the non-breeding season), which have risen from 73 000 in 2012 to 90 000 in 2014.  These increases may in part reflect recent investments in conservation projects to improve the species’ prospects, e.g. in Italy and Malta.

As the species is no longer declining, and seems unlikely to decline sufficiently rapidly in the near future to be listed as Near Threatened, it should be reclassified as globally Least Concern.  Comments on this proposal are welcome.”

Yelkouan Shearwater

Information taken from BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forum for Seabirds, which also includes expert commentary on the proposal.

References:

BirdLife International 2015.  European Red List of Birds.  Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.

Carboneras, C., Jutglar, F. & Kirwan, G.M. 2014).  Yelkouan Shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan).  In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (Eds).  Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive.  Barcelona: Lynx Edicions.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 30 July 2015

ACAP publishes the final report of its Fifth Session of the Meeting of Parties in three languages

The final report of ACAP’s Fifth Session of the Meeting of Parties held in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain over 4–8 May 2015 (click here) has now been published in the Agreement’s three official languages: English, French and Spanish.

The Pink-footed Shearwater was listed as an ACAP species at MoP5, photograph by Peter Hodum

The 29 documents considered at the meeting can be accessed here in English.  They are also available in French and Spanish.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 29 July 2015

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