Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

Latest News

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.

Contact the ACAP Information Officer if you wish to have your news featured.

Click here to subscribe to ACAP News Click here to subscribe to 'ACAP Latest News'

Individual differences in migration strategies of Italian Scopoli's Shearwaters

Martina Müller (Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Nagoya University, Japan) and colleagues have published in the Chinese journal Current Zoology on migration patterns of Scopoli’s Shearwaters Calonectris diomedea from Linosa Island, near Sicily, Italy.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Recently-developed capabilities for tracking the movements of individual birds over the course of a year or longer has provided increasing evidence for consistent individual differences in migration schedules and destinations.  This raises questions about the relative importance of individual consistency versus flexibility in the evolution of migration strategies, and has implications for the ability of populations to respond to climatic change.  Using geolocators, we tracked the migrations of Scopoli’s shearwaters Calonectris diomedea breeding in Linosa (Italy) across three years, and analysed timing and spatial aspects of their movements.  Birds showed remarkable variation in their main wintering destination along the western coast of Africa.  We found significant individual consistency in the total distance traveled, time spent in transit, and time that individuals spent in the wintering areas.  We found extensive sex differences in scheduling, duration, distances and destinations of migratory journeys.  We also found sex differences in the degree of individual consistency in aspects of migration behaviour.  Despite strong evidence for individual consistency, which indicates that migration journeys from the same bird tended to be more similar than those of different birds, there remained substantial intra-individual variation between years.  Indeed, we also found clear annual differences in departure dates, return dates, wintering period, the total distance traveled and return routes from wintering grounds back to the colony.  These findings show that this population flexibly shifts migration schedules as well as routes between years in response to direct or indirect effects of heterogeneity in the environment, while maintaining consistent individual migration strategies.”

Cory's/Scopoli's Shearwater off South Africa, photograph by John Graham 


Müller, M.S., Massa, B., Phillips, R.A. & Dell’Omo, G. 2014.  Individual consistency and sex differences in migration strat.egies of Scopoli's shearwaters Calonectris diomedea despite year differences.  Current Zoology 60: 631-641.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 06 October 2014

Pinkie and the Scarer: effectiveness of two seabird mitigation devices on Australian trawlers

Johanna Pierre (Johanna Pierre Environmental Consulting Ltd) and colleagues have produced a report that assesses two different seabird mitigation measures in Australian scalefish and shark trawl fisheries.

The report’s shortened Executive Summary follows:

“In 2009, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority became aware that interactions between seabirds and fishing gear were occurring in the South East Trawl and Great Australian Bight Trawl sectors of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (SESSF).  Seabird Management Plans (SMPs) were developed in response.  These SMPs include provision for bycatch reduction measures intended to limit seabird access to risk areas around trawl warps.  To contribute to assessments of the efficacy of SMP provisions, two bycatch reduction devices were tested at sea: the warp deflector and the warp scarer.  The warp deflector comprises a plastic “pinkie” buoy that is attached to the trawl warp by a clip and connected back to the vessel on a rope.  The warp scarer is a rope interlaced with semi-stiff streamers that is clipped onto the trawl warp for much of the warp’s exposed length.

Shy-type albatross accounted for 77 percent of observed interactions with a much lower incidence involving Short-tailed Shearwater and the Black-browed Albatross.

Shy-type albatross interactions with trawl warps were largely restricted to daylight hours when fish processing waste was being discharged.  The data collected in this study shows [sic] that the risk of interactions between shy-type albatross and trawl warps appeared to be much lower at night.  Also, out of a total of 176 seabird interactions with nets recorded during this study, none of those interactions were [sic] considered likely to cause injury.

Warp deflectors (‘pinkies’) reduced heavy contact around 75 percent, depending on how birds were feeding.  Warp deflectors were effective in reducing contacts between shy-type albatross and trawl warps that did not result in birds being submerged, during periods of both relaxed and more aggressive feeding ...”.

Black-browed Albatrosses behind a trawler, photograph by Graham Parker

See also a summary and two popular articles (* and *) on the report.  Click here for the video. Information on the work reported here was given to the recent meeting of ACAP's Seabird Bycatch Working Group, in Punta del Este, Uruguay as SBG 6 Inf 06.


Pierre, J., Gerner, M. & Penrose, L. [2014].  Assessing the Effectiveness of Seabird Mitigation Devices in the Trawl Sectors of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery in Australia.  [Place of publication or Publisher not given].  28 pp.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 04 October 2014

“The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and the conservation of albatrosses down the ages

Graham Barwell (School of Social Sciences, Media and Communication, University of Wollongong) has written on Coleridge’s 1798 epic The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and its influence on conservation attitudes towards albatrosses from then to now, a period of more than two centuries.  His paper was published in the now discontinued Australian Kunapipi: Journal of Postcolonial Writing and Culture in 2007, but apparently has only been made available online this year.

There is no abstract or summary provided, so here are the opening and closing paragraphs of Barwell’s illustrated essay:

“”What is remarkable about Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem, ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ (1798), is that, despite its having a powerful impact on the imaginations of its readers in the nineteenth century, it had, as the epigraph indicates, almost no effect on the practices or behaviour aboard ships, whether among sailors or emigrant passengers.

‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ has been recast as conservationist poem even though it had almost no effect on the actual treatment of albatrosses in the century or so following its publication.  Its significance lies not so much in its environmental advocacy, even if that is a popular way of reading it today, as in its providing the conception of the bird and establishing its profile in the Western imagination, so that some of the gravitas coming from the poem’s canonical status can be harnessed to the international movement for albatross protection.  This is no small achievement for a poem which began its public life by disappointing those buyers more than two hundred years ago who thought they were getting a naval songbook.”

There is no clear evidence what species of albatross was Coleridge's, but perhaps a Sooty?

Photograph by Ross Wanless 


Barwell, G. [2007] 2014.  Coleridge’s albatross and the impulse to seabird conservation.  Kunapipi 29: 22-61.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 03 October 2014

The South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation discusses seabird mortality and mitigation this week

The Second Scientific Committee Meeting of the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (SPRFMO) is being held in Honolulu, USA this and next week.

According to the provisional agenda for the meeting it will “[r]eview international best practices in bycatch, incidental catches and mitigation options in pelagic and bottom fisheries, and make appropriate recommendations[, i]ncluding, inter alia, the potential use of trigger limits to manage the incidental catch of seabirds in the SPRFMO Convention Area and advice on implementing, inter alia, the measures contained in Annex 2 of CMM 2.04 (minimising seabird bycatch).”

Albatrosses gather behind a trawler, photograph by Graham Parker

The following papers relevant to seabird mitigation are to be presented at the meeting:

Debski, L. & Pierre, J. 2014.  Seabird risk and trawler discharge.  SC-02-12.  7 pp.

Debski, L. & Pierre, J. 2014.  Seabird cryptic mortality and risk from fisheriesSC-02-13.  6 pp.

Debski, L. & Pierre, J. 2014.  Observer coverage to monitor seabird captures in demersal longline and trawl fisheries. SC-02-14.  7 pp.

Garcia, M. 2014. Overview of the fisheries and seabird bycatch in Chile.  SC-02-19_rev1.  11 pp.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 02 October 2014

Keeping seabirds off the hook (and away from the trawl): how many FAO National Plans of Action - Seabirds have been adopted around the World since 1998?

The International Plan of Action for Reducing Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries (IPOA-Seabirds) was developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 1998.  The plan encourages all FAO member countries to implement their own National Plans of Action (NPOA-Seabirds).

In terms of the IPOA-Seabirds, countries first assess the seabird by-catch problem within their fisheries and/or within their coastal waters.  If a bycatch problem is found to exist, each country should then develop and implement its own National Plan of Action (NPOA-Seabirds), based on the recommendations listed in the IPOA-Seabirds.

Following a meeting of its Advisory Committee in Uruguay last month and with input from the delegations of attending Parties, ACAP has updated the list of NPOA-Seabirds and of equivalent and related documents on its web site (click here).

Seven Parties to ACAP (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa and Uruguay) have adopted their own plans or equivalent documents.  Of the high-seas fishing nations and entities that impact seabirds; Japan and Chinese Taipei have NPOA-Seabirds, as does the European Union.  Regular observer nations at ACAP meetings, Canada and the USA have also adopted NPOA-Seabirds.  Several of the plans cover trawling as well as longlining and for several updated versions or progress reports are also listed.

Namibia attended the Uruguay meeting as an observer and during a presentation informed it that it had produced its own NPOA-Seabirds, which was now awaiting formal adoption and promulgation of regulations.

Setting longlines at night (coupled with bird-scaring lines and an adequate weighting regime) reduces mortality of albatrosses and petrels

With thanks to Jorge Azócar R (Chile), John Barrington (Australia), Johannes Holtzhausen (Namibia), Ken Morgan (Canada) and Joost Pompert (United Kingdom) for information.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 01 October 2014