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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The border effect: fishing closures for albatross conservation in Argentine waters

Sofía Copello (Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras, Mar del Plata, Argentina) and colleagues have written on the effect of a fishing closure on albatross and petrel distribution and bycatch in Argentine waters in the journal Marine Policy.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Fisheries management may impact on a range of seabirds’ traits such as foraging behavior.  There is an extensive hake fishing closure in Argentine waters (HFC) where trawling is banned.  The concentration of fishing effort in the boundary of this area triggered the question of a potential negative effect of seabird bycatch in such area.  The distribution of seabirds attending vessels and their bycatch rates was explored as well as the foraging behavior of Black-browed albatrosses (BBA, Thalassarche melanophris) and Southern Giant Petrels (SGP, Macronectes giganteus) in relation to the HFC.  For this, 55 satellite transmitters were deployed on the birds and discrete behavioral mode was inferred using state-space models.  Seabird attendance at trawlers and bycatch data were obtained from on-board observers.  The spatial distribution of the birds’ bycatch was concentrated in the boundary of the HFC and the distance to the boundary had a significant effect on the interactions. The spatial modeling of seabird attendance revealed a similar pattern with core areas in the margins of the HFC.  The bulk of the core foraging areas of BBAs and SGPs were concentrated in waters adjacent to the HFC.  Besides, the time spent foraging in the boundaries of the HFC was greater than inside the HFC.  The study highlights that the “exporting effect” due to the concentration of fishing effort and seabird foraging in bordering areas may increase seabird bycatch in the neighboring waters.  Hence, the design of management measures for seabird bycatch should contemplate regulations to address these negative side effects.”


Black-browed Albatrosses congregate behind a fishing vessel in the South Atlantic, photograph by Graham Parker 


Copello, S., Gabriela S. Blanco, G.S., Seco Pon, J.P., Quintana, F. & Favero, M. 2016.  Exporting the problem: issues with fishing closures in seabird conservation.  Marine Policy 74: 120–127.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 04 October 2016

Albatrosses and petrels caught by Spanish longliners in the Indian Ocean identified

José Fernández-Costa (Instituto Español de Oceanografía, A Coruña, Spain) and colleagues submitted a document on “interactions” (=bycatch?) with seabirds by a Spanish longline fishery targeting swordfish in the Indian Ocean to the 12th Meeting of the Working Party on Ecosystems and Bycatch (WPEB12) of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) held in Victoria, Mahé, Seychelles earlier this month.

The document’s summary follows:

“A total of 310 fishing sets (361,608 hooks) targeting swordfish in the Indian Ocean (lat ≥ 25ºS) between 2011-2015 were analyzed.  The areas included in the study are between 25º-36ºS and 34º-72ºE.  However, the interaction with seabirds was restricted to areas between 31º-36ºS and 37º-48ºE during the January-April period.  A total of 19 seabird individuals during the whole period 2011-2015, identified as belonging to seven species, interacted with the fishing operation (Diomedea exulans, Phoebetria fusca, Procellaria aequinoctialis, Thalassarche carteri, Thalassarche cauta, Thalassarche melanophris, Thalassarche salvini). Most interactions occurred in one year-months and in a single 5ºx5º square.  Interactions observed in other areas were minor or regularly null.  The overall rate of interaction estimated for areas lat ≥ 25ºS and species combined was estimated at 5.254E-05 seabird/hook.  Night setting and low levels of lighting during setting operations as well as other fishing protocols applied by the vessels were identified as the most important factors to explain the regularly low or null interaction with seabirds.

Sightings of seabirds were also made during the trips studied, most of them occurring during daytime sailing.  Procellaria aequinoctialis was identified as the most prevalent species in sightings.  Other less prevalent species were identified as Phoebetria fusca, Thalassarche carteri, Diomedea exulans, Thalassarche cauta, Pterodroma macroptera, Thalassarche salvini and very sporadically Sulidae/Laridae, Oceanites spp. and Ardena pacifica (sic).  The paper also summarizes the mitigation regulations put in place at national level for reducing the incidental bycatch of seabirds in the longline fleet in the Indian Ocean.”

white chinned petrel hooked by nicolas gasco

White-chinned Petrel killled by a longline hook, photograph by Nicolas Gasco 


Fernández-Costa, J., Ramos-Cartelle, A., Carroceda, A. & Mejut, J. 2016.  Interaction between seabirds and Spanish surface longline targeting swordfish in the Indian Ocean (Lat ≥ 25º south) during the period 2011-2015.  IOTC-2016-WPEB 12-29.  11 pp.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 03 October 2016

Mitigating bycatch: the distribution of at-risk New Zealand albatrosses and petrels in the Pacific Ocean

Igor Debski (Department of Conservation, Wellington, New Zealand) and colleagues submitted a document on the distribution of threatened New Zealand seabirds in the Pacific to the 12th Regular Session of the Scientific Committee of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) in Bali, Indonesia this August.

The document’s abstract follows:

We present a summary of the most relevant and up to date distributional information for New Zealand breeding seabird species identified as at highest risk from fisheries bycatch.  The foraging range of these species is overlaid with the spatial application of CMM 2012-07 to mitigate the impact of fishing for highly migratory fish stocks on seabirds.  Building on information previously considered by the Science Committee, we assess how fishing impacts can best be mitigated for these most at-risk seabirds, with a particular focus on the spatial application of mitigation in the southern Pacific.”

More information on submissions to recent WCPFC meetings here.


A Shy Albatross trails a fishing line, photograph by Robert Hynson


Debski, I., Freydís Hjörvarsdóttir, F. & Knowles, K. 2016.  Distribution of highly at-risk New Zealand seabirds in the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission area. WCPFC-SC12-2016/ EB-WP-09 Rev 1.  7 pp.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 30 September 2016

Factors affecting seabird bycatch occurrence in southern Japanese longline fisheries

Yukiko Inoue (National Research Institute of Far Seas Fisheries, Shizuoka, Japan) and colleagues submitted a paper on seabird bycatch to the 12th Meeting of the Working Party on Ecosystems and Bycatch (WPEB12) of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) held in Victoria, Mahé, Seychelles earlier this month.

The document’s abstract follows:

“We analyzed the factor affecting bycatch occurrence rate.  Random forest was applied to analyze.  We constructed four models examining effect of species group, season, year, environmental factors, distance from the colonies, a lunar phase, and catch of fish.  Our model was likely to be a statistically appropriate model because out of bags is an acceptable range though a little high.  Dominant variables in common with analyzed four models were latitude, longitude, elapsed days from the first day of the year, number of observed hooks, species group, sea surface temperature in this study.  Also year, cruise ID and lunar phase were dominant variables in common with two to three models.  Those variables would have the large impact on bycatch occurrence rate.  Thus, it was suggested that those variables should be considered in the comparison between CPCs and in the collaboration work.”



Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross near Amsterdam Island, photograph by Kirk Zufelt

Inoue, Y., Kanaiwa, M., Yokawa, K. & Oshima, K. 2016.  Examination of factors affecting seabird bycatch occurrence rate in southern hemisphere in Japanese longline fishery with using random forest.  IOTC–2016–WPEB12–INF07.  Unpaginated.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 29 September 2016

Joining up reserves on the Kerguelen/Heard Plateau? Using Black-browed and Wandering Albatross tracking to define a new Marine Protected Area

Laurie Thiers and colleagues (Centre d’Études Biologiques de Chizé, Villiers en Bois, France) have published in the journal Polar Biology on utilizing at-sea distributions of marine top predators to choose a Marine Protected Area around the Kerguelen Islands.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“The French Kerguelen Archipelago represents an important breeding place for many species of marine top predators within the Southern Ocean, making the plateau hosting the archipelago and surrounding waters (CCAMLR area 58.5) a crucial area to design conservation measures.  In this study, available tracking data from nine species of seabirds and marine mammals breeding at Kerguelen were analysed to define potential boundaries for a Marine Protected Area.  Maps of time spent per square of each species were first used to describe high-use areas within the Kerguelen Plateau.  Habitat models were then developed for four species (Black-browed albatross, Wandering albatross, King penguin and Antarctic fur seal) chosen on the basis of their contrasted foraging ecology and diet to represent the top predator community.  Predictive models were then applied to the main colonies of the four species for which no tracking data were available to illustrate the most important feeding areas at the scale of the entire study zone.  An area delineated by the central part of the plateau and its slopes appeared to be of great importance for the top predators’ community and would appropriately complete the limits of the existing Australian marine reserve of Heard and McDonald Islands.”

Wandering Albatross at sea, photograph by John Chardine 


Thiers, L. Delord, K., Bost, C.-A., Guinet, C. & Weimerskirch, H. 2016.  Important marine sectors for the top predator community around Kerguelen Archipelago.  Polar Biology DOI: 10.1007/s00300-016-1964-4.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 28 September 2016

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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