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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Albatrosses and petrels are killed by Taiwanese longliners in the Pacific Ocean

Hsiang-Wen Huang (National Taiwan Ocean University, Institute of Marine Affairs and Resource Management, Keelung, Taiwan) has written in the journal Fisheries Research on seabirds, including ACAP-listed albatrosses and petrels, killed by Taiwanese longliners in the Pacific.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“To understand the sea turtle and seabird bycatch of Taiwanese tuna longline fleets for conservation purposes, this research analyzed the data collected by onboard observers between 2008 and 2013.  In total, data from 149 trips and 24.3 million hooks were analyzed, including 50 albacore large-scale tuna longline vessel (LTLVs) trips, 72 bigeye LTLVs trips, and 27 small-scale tuna longline vessel (STLVs) trips.  Seabird bycatch was mostly from the albacore LTLVs.  The highest bycatch rate was 0.320 bird per thousand hooks in the southwest Pacific Ocean in the first quarter, followed by the same area in the second quarter (0.046 bird per thousand hooks) by the albacore LTLVs.  For seabird bycatch species, 81.7% were albatrosses, including wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans), Laysan albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis), white-capped albatross (Thalassarche steadi), black-footed albatross (Phoebastria nigripes), and black-browed albatrosses (Diomedea melanophris); other seabird species included white-chinned petrel (Procellaria aequinoctialis), flesh-footed shearwater (Puffinus carneipes), frigate bird and booby.  Regarding sea turtles, the bycatch rate peaked in the second quarter in the western tropical Pacific Ocean by STLVs (0.034 turtle per thousand hooks), followed by albacore LTLVs (0.028 turtle per thousand hooks) during the same time period in the same region. The major bycatch species included olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea), followed by green (Chelonia mydas), and leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea).  Observer training for seabird species identification and detailed information collection for mitigation measures should be implemented to ensure better data quality.  This will help implement mitigation measures in areas and fisheries where a large number of birds are taken as bycatch.”

Black-browed Albatross killed on  longline hook, photograph by Graham Robertson

Reference:

Huang, H.W. 2015.  Incidental catch of seabirds and sea turtles by Taiwanese longline fleets in the Pacific Ocean.  Fisheries Research 170: 79-189.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 21 July 2015

Artificial burrows help conserve Yelkouan and Scopoli's Shearwaters on French islands in the Mediterranean

Karen Bourgeois (School of Biological Sciences, Auckland University, New Zealand) and colleagues have published in the journal Biological Conservation on utilizing artificial burrows for Yelkouan Puffinus yelkouan and Scopoli's Calonectris diomedea Shearwaters in the Hyères Archipelago.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Seabirds are one of the most threatened animal taxa worldwide as they have to deal with threats both at sea and on their breeding grounds.  One of these threats is the loss and deterioration of their nesting habitat.  Here, we evaluated the long-term effectiveness of providing artificial burrows for the conservation of Yelkouan (Puffinus yelkouan) and Scopoli's (Calonectris diomedea) shearwaters on two islands of the Hyères archipelago (Mediterranean, France).  We estimated and compared the longevity, occupancy of and breeding success in artificial burrows and natural cavities.  We also analysed factors affecting these three parameters in artificial burrows to optimize their installation for the conservation of our study species.  Although their efficacy depended on the species and the island considered, artificial burrows provided more stable and persistent breeding habitat (12-years persistence: 80% vs. 72%), allowed the recruitment of new breeders and good reproductive success (49–76%), and probably reduced inter-specific competition for nesting cavities, across the two islands.  The characteristics of both artificial burrows and the areas where they were installed affected artificial burrow efficacy in terms of longevity and occupancy by shearwaters.  Thus, artificial burrows were successful tools for the conservation of these two Mediterranean species of shearwaters, particularly when their design and installation were optimized by limiting the risk of their destruction and by selecting burrow and habitat characteristics that enhance their occupancy by the target species.   evaluation of such conservation measures should be performed for every species and site to help managers design and implement effective conservation plans.”

 

Yelkouan Shearwater, photograph by Matthew Borg Cardona

With thanks to Karen Bourgeois.

Reference:

Bourgeois, K., Dromzée, S. & Vidal, E. 2015.  Are artificial burrows efficient conservation tools for seabirds? A case study of two sympatric shearwaters on neighbouring islands and guidelines for improvement.  Biological Conservation 191: 282-290.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 20 July 2015

Bird-scaring lines halt mortality of Black-browed Albatrosses by Argentinian trawlers

Leandro Tamini (Albatross Task Force Argentina, Programa Marino, Aves Argentina, Buenos Aires, Argentina) and colleagues have published in the journal Polar Biology on success achieved from using bird-scaring lines on bottom trawlers fishing on the Patagonian Shelf.

The paper’s abstract follows:

Seabird bycatch represents one of the main threats to vulnerable seabird populations, particularly albatross and petrels, and requires urgent conservation management interventions at a global scale.  We studied seabird mortality associated with demersal factory trawl vessels that target Argentine Hake Merluccius hubbsi along the Argentine Patagonian Shelf and tested the efficacy of bird-scaring lines as a seabird bycatch mitigation measure.  From November 2008 to June 2010, dedicated seabird observers recorded three sources of seabird mortality: entanglements with the trawl net; collisions with the trawl cables (corpses hauled aboard); and collisions with trawl cables (birds observed killed or injured).  During 141 days and 389 hauls, we recorded 17 seabird species associated with vessels, ten of which interacted with fishing gear.  The most vulnerable species was the black-browed albatross (Thalassarche melanophris).  From 41 recovered corpses, we identified black-browed albatross mortality rates of 0.013 and 0.093 birds/haul for net entanglement and cable collision (corpses hauled aboard), respectively.  From counts of birds killed or injured by cable collisions, we estimate a black-browed albatross mortality rate of 0.237 birds/h.   We use official fishing effort data to consider the potential scale of seabird mortality for the entire fleet and identify the main factors contributing to seabird mortality in this fishery. Bird-scaring lines eliminated seabird mortality caused by collisions with trawl cables and are recommended as a short- to medium-term measure to mitigate seabird mortality in this fishery.

Twin bird-scaring lines deployed behind a demersal hake trawler in the South Atlantic deterring Black-browed Albatrosses from collisions

Photograph by Barry Watkins

Reference:

Tamini, L.L., Chavez, L.N., Góngora, M.E., Yates, O., Rabuffetti, F.L. & Sullivan, B. 2015.  Estimating mortality of black-browed albatross (Thalassarche melanophris, Temminck, 1828) and other seabirds in the Argentinean factory trawl fleet and the use of bird-scaring lines as a mitigation measure.  Polar Biology DOI 10.1007/s00300-015-1747-3.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 19 July 2015

A Black-browed Albatross visits Minsmere Nature Reserve on the United Kingdom’s North Sea coast

Minsmere is a nature reserve managed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) on the United Kingdom’s North Sea coast in the County of Suffolk.

On 12 July a Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophris was photographed swimming in one of the reserve’s freshwater pools before flying out to sea shortly thereafter (click here).  For more photos of the albatross and a birder's description of the sighting click here.

 

The Minsmere Black-browed Albatross in flight

The albatross may well be the same bird as seen on the German island of Heligoland a few days earlier (click here) – which is also assumed to be the same bird as seen there last year (click here).

Southern-hemisphere albatrosses cross into the North Atlantic from time to time (click here).

Read more on the Mismere bird here.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 18 July 2015

Long-term monitoring required: Buller’s Albatross continues to get studied at The Snares south of New Zealand

Paul Sagar (National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand) has tabled a final report at last month’s meeting of the Conservation Services Programme (CSP) of New Zealand’s Department of Conservation on the demography of Buller’s Albatrosses Thalassarche bulleri on The Snares.

The report's Executive Summary follows:

“This report presents a summary of the results of the collection of demographic data at three study colonies of Southern Buller’s Albatross Thalassarche bulleri bulleri breeding at The Snares from 23-29 March 2015.  Demographic studies at the three study colonies have been undertaken annually since 1992, and so this report incorporates some of these data in the current analysis.  Estimates of the numbers of breeding pairs, made by recording the contents of each nest mound, showed slight decreases in all three colonies over the numbers recorded during 2014.  With the assumption that the combined total number of breeding pairs in the three study colonies was representative of North East Island as a whole then the breeding population probably peaked in 2005-2006 and has since undergone marked annual variations.  A total of 295 birds that had been banded previously in the study colonies as breeding adults of unknown age were recaptured.  A further 26 breeding birds were banded in the study colonies - these are presumed to be first-time breeders.  During the period 1992-2004 all chicks that survived to near fledging in the study colonies were banded and their survival to return to the study colonies in subsequent years has been monitored.  This year 134 of these birds were recaptured, with birds from cohorts banded from 1999 to 2004 being recaptured for the first time, and so showing the long-term monitoring required to obtain reliable estimates of survival of such known-age birds.  A further 36 known-age birds, from cohorts banded 1996-2004, were found breeding for the first time, and so were recorded as being recruited to the breeding population.”

 

Buller's Albatross at The Snares, photograph by Paul Sagar

Click here to read earlier news items on Buller’s Albatrosses at The Snares.

Reference:

Sagar, P. 2015.  Population Study of Southern Buller's Albatrosses on The Snares.  Population Study of Buller's Albatrosses.  Prepared for Department of Conservation May 2015.  Christchurch: National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research Ltd.  11 pp.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 17 July 2015

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