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 water sprayer: a new seabird mitigation device for fishing trawlers performs well under test

A new seabird mitigation device called a water sprayer being developed by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) is reported to reduce seabird interactions with the cables or warps used to tow nets from trawlers by 90% (click here).

“The water sprayer sits over each warp and rains a heavy stream of water down on the area where the warps enter the sea.  This stream can be aimed at the warp to allow for wind and whether the vessel is fishing shallow or deep.  If the vessel is fishing deep the angle of the warp is steeper and it is closer to the vessel.”

The water sprayer has been developed using Australian Government funding.  A video of it in action can be viewed here.  The project is ongoing and testing of a second device is still underway.

Black-browed Albatrosses gather in large numbers around a trawler, photograph by Graham Parker

Read more on AFMA’s efforts to mitigate seabird mortality by trawlers.

Click here to access ACAP’s best-practice advice for mitigating seabird mortality by both pelagic and demersal trawlers.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 01 September 2015

Managing bycatch: ACAP attends a Common Oceans – Sustainable Management of Tuna Fisheries and Biodiversity Conservation in the Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction Steering Committee

In July ACAP’s Executive Secretary attended a meeting of the Common Oceans – Sustainable Management of Tuna Fisheries and Biodiversity Conservation in the Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (The ABNJ Tuna Project) Steering Committee, held at the FAO Headquarters.  The ABNJ Tuna Project is one of four projects that constitute the Common Oceans Program funded in part through the Global Environment Fund (GEF).  The objective of the Project is to achieve responsibility, efficiency and sustainability in tuna production and biodiversity conservation in the ABNJ, through the systematic application of an ecosystem approach in tuna fisheries.

The project consists of four components:

  1. Promotion of sustainable management of tuna fisheries in accordance with an ecosystem approach;
  2. Strengthening and harmonizing monitoring, control and surveillance to address Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing;
  3. Reducing ecosystem impacts of tuna fishing; and
  4. Information and best practices dissemination and monitoring and evaluation.

A juvenile Black-browed Albatross gets caught as it goes for a baited longline hook, photograph by Martin Abreu 

ACAP is contributing to the third and fourth components of this project through the provision of information on best-practice bycatch mitigation measures to reduce the incidental bycatch of seabirds in tuna fisheries.  This information will form a component of the Bycatch Management Information System (BMIS), whose objective is that ‘Management decision making processes are enhanced and accelerated through access to all relevant material on bycatch management measures and practices in tuna fisheries.

This work will update and redesign the existing BMIS established by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC).  Specifically, “The Bycatch Management (formerly ‘Mitigation’) Information System (BMIS) is being redeveloped as a global resource with funding provided through the Common Oceans ABNJ Tuna Project.  It is proposed that the new look BMIS will present a broader range of material, particularly regarding the management of bycatch, e.g., bycatch species interaction rates and threats, population-level assessments, and national and international management schemes. Progress on bycatch data harmonisation, electronic reporting (e-reporting) and e-monitoring will be included.  A new database platform will offer improvements in database stability, security and flexibility, and facilitate more efficient data entry, reference management and general administration.  A new web interface will be required, given the proposed changes in the underlying database, as well as in scope and content.  The redevelopment will enhance the role of the BMIS in building understanding of bycatch mitigation and management among those involved in tuna and billfish fisheries, thereby supporting the adoption and implementation of science-based management measures so that bycatch is managed comprehensively and sustainably (WCPFC/SC11-EB-IP-07)”.

Warren Papworth, ACAP Executive Secretary, 31 August 2015

BirdLife International’s Marine Programme produces an instructional video on seabird mitigation for longline fishers

BirdLife International’s Marine Programme along with financial support from the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation has produced a seven and a half minute instructional video directed at longline fishers.  BirdLife reports:

 “The BirdLife Marine Programme’s work to reduce seabird bycatch in high seas fisheries will be familiar to followers of our efforts to save several albatross species from extinction.  We have succeeded in encouraging all five tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs – the bodies that manage high seas fisheries) to put seabird conservation measures in place, requiring vessels to deploy bycatch mitigation on board.  Our next task is to help ensure that these measures are actively implemented on vessels and track their efficacy in reducing seabird bycatch.  To that end, and thanks to funding from the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation, we have developed an instructional film for the skippers and crew of longline vessels, highlighting the issue of seabird bycatch and describing the simple and effective measures that can be taken to minimise fishing impacts on seabird populations.  While this is mainly aimed at fishermen, it’s stuffed full off great albatross footage and neatly illustrates how to solve the problem of bycatch in longliners.”


The Albatross and Petrel Agreement has also worked at meetings of all the tuna RFMOs to encourage the adoption of the three best-practice mitigation measures of deployment of bird-scaring (streamer) lines, adequate line weighting and night-time setting for pelagic longline fishing (click here).

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 30 August 2015

Outcomes from this month’s session of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission’s Scientific Committee

ACAP’s Executive Secretary, Warren Papworth, recently represented the Agreement at the 11th Regular Session of the Scientific Committee of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia (click here).  A number of important issues relevant to seabird conservation in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) was discussed, including from the following two papers.

Working Paper WCPFC-SC11-2015/EB-WP-09 senior-authored and presented by Karen Baird of BirdLife International provided information on the distribution of five species of threatened albatrosses (Antipodean Diomedea antipodensis, Northern Royal D. sanfordi, Wandering D. exulans, Black-browed Thalassarche melanophris and White-capped T. steadi) and two species of threatened petrels (Black Procellaria parkinsoni and White-chinned P. aequinoctialis) in the WCPO.  The data provided indicate that these seven ACAP-listed species are at risk of being caught as bycatch between 25°S and 30°S, an area for which seabird bycatch mitigation measures are not currently mandatory under the WCPFC’s seabird conservation measure (CMM 2012-07).


Antipodean Albatross at sea, photograph courtesy of Albatross Encounter

Although many delegations spoke in favour of the Scientific Committee making a recommendation to the WCPFC Commission that the seabird conservation measure be amended to require the use of bycatch mitigation in this area, it was not possible to achieve a consensus view on the proposal.  Japan expressed a minority view that the information presented did not conclusively show there was a need for CMM 2012-07 to be amended to include this area.  A majority view provided by FFA (Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries AgencyMembers noted that the data provided did show there was potential for interactions of threatened seabird species with longline fisheries to occur and recommended to the Commission that it consider amending CMM 2012-07.  It is likely that the BirdLife paper will be referred to the Commission for its consideration.

Working Paper WCPFC-SC11-2015/EB-WP-10, presented by Nobuhiro Katsumata and colleagues from Japan’s National Research Institute on Far Seas Fisheries, concerns the development of seabird bycatch mitigation measures for small longline vessels in the Western North Pacific.  Currently, small longline vessels less than 24 m in length are exempt from the mandatory requirement that applies to larger vessels under CMM 2012-07 to use seabird bycatch mitigation measures in the WCPO area north of 23°N.  The exemption for small longline vessels was allowed due to concern that bycatch mitigation measures used on larger vessels may be impractical on smaller vessels.

The study examined the effectiveness of two different designs of bird-scaring lines, as well as the use of no line on seabird bycatch rates, on a small commercial longline vessel.  The results of the study indicated that all of the bird-scaring lines deployed in the experiment substantially reduced bait attack and the actual bycatch of seabirds.  A trial use of a light bird-scaring line with submerged elements resulted in the entanglement of the underwater segment with fishing gear.

ACAP’s representative noted that there has only been limited research on the effectiveness of bycatch mitigation measures on small vessels and welcomed this research.  He noted ACAP’s concern at the exemption of small vessels from the mandatory requirements of CMM 2012-07 and noted also that this research highlights that significant levels of seabird bycatch may be occurring in the area north of 23°N.  He encouraged Japan to present the results of this research to the next meeting of ACAP’s Seabird Bycatch Working Group.

Access the session’s Executive Summary report here.


Baird K., Small, C., Bell, E., Walker, K., Elliot, G., Nicholls, D., Alderman, R., Scofield, P., Depp, L., Thomas, B. & Dias, M.P. 2015.  The overlap of threatened seabirds with reported bycatch areas between 25° and 30° South in the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission Area.  WCPFC-SC11-2015/ EB-WP-09.  18 pp.

Katsumata, N., Ochi, D., Matsunaga, H., Inoue, Y. & Minami, H. 2015.  At-sea experiment to develop the mitigation measures of seabirds for small longline vessels in the western North Pacific.  WCPFC-SC11-2015/ EB-WP-10.  Rev. 1.  10 pp

Warren Papworth, ACAP Executive Secretary, 29 August 2015

Indian Ocean Tuna Commission’s Working Party on Ecosystems and Bycatch to discuss seabird bycatch and its mitigation next month in Portugal

The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) will hold the 11th meeting of its Working Party on Ecosystems and Bycatch (WPEB11) in Olhâo, Portugal over 7 to 11 September.

A total of six papers dealing with the issue of bycatch of seabirds will be tabled and discussed.  They are listed by title here.

Angel, A., Wanless, R.[M.] & Small, C, 2015.  A need for improved reporting on seabird bycatch in the longline fishery.  IOTC–2015–WPEB11–33.  4 pp.

Wanless, R.M. & Small, C. 2015.  New approaches for better understanding seabird bycatch. in tuna longline fisheries.  IOTC–2015–WPEB11–34.  2 pp.

ACAP Secretariat 2015.  ACAP summary advice for reducing the impact of pelagic longline fishing on seabirds.  IOTC–2015–WPEB11–35.  4 pp.

Wolfaardt, A. & Debski, I. 2015.  Estimation of seabird bycatch rates and numbers.  IOTC–2015–WPEB11–36.  4 pp.

Inoue, Y., Yokawa, K. & Minami, H. 2015.  Preliminary analyses; evaluation of the effects of the newly employed seabird bycatch regulation for longline fisheries in IOTC conventional area with using current observer data .  IOTC–2015–WPEB11–37.  10 pp.

Inoue, Y., Alderman, R., Taguchi, M., Sakuma, K., Kitamura, T., Phillips, R.A., Burg, T.M., Small, C., Sato, M., Papworth, W. & Minami, H. 2015.  Progress of the development of the DNA identification for the southern albatross bycatch in longline fishery.  IOTC–2015–WPEB11–38.  21 pp.

The Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross occurs within the IOTC region, photograph by Peter Ryan

ACAP will be represented at the meeting by Anton Wolfaardt, Convenor of the ACAP Seabird Bycatch Working Group, who will present the two ACAP papers.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 28 August 2015