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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Australia produces a guide to developing new seabird mitigation devices in trawl fisheries

The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) has released a new ‘Guide to developing new seabird mitigation devices in trawl fisheries’, which aims to make it easier for trawl operators to trial new seabird mitigation devices to reduce seabird interactions and improve operational efficiencies and crew safety.

Minimising interactions between seabirds and otter trawl fishing operations is recognised as a priority for AFMA and the fishing industry.  A recent AFMA’s report found that 600 mm warp deflectors (pinkies) reduce heavy interactions between seabirds and warp wires by 75%.

As a result, AFMA has implemented seabird management plans (SMPs) for all otter board trawl vessels operating in the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (SESSF). Each vessel’s SMP lists the AFMA approved seabird mitigation measures for that vessel, including the compulsory use of 600 mm diameter pinkies.

There is increasing interest from fishers in developing new mitigation devices or enhancing the current AFMA approved devices to improve operational efficiencies, crew safety and further reduce seabird interactions.  New or modified mitigation devices will need to be approved by AFMA for each SMP.  New or modified mitigation devices will need to be assessed to ensure they meet the required bycatch reduction target and maintain a safe working environment for crew.

The guide outlines the necessary steps to plan, develop, trial and implement a new seabird mitigation device in the SESSF otter board trawl fisheries.  A number of new seabird mitigation devices are currently undergoing at sea trials, including a bird baffler device and water jet sprayer booms and AFMA says that early results of the trials are promising.

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

Click here for the new guide.

Above article reproduced from World Fishing & Aquaculture.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 03 May 2015

First time in Spain. ACAP Fifth Session meets next week in the Canary Islands

ACAP’s Fifth Session (MoP5) of its Meeting of Parties - the decision-making body of the Agreement -- will take place from Monday to Friday next week in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain.  The meeting will be held in the Iberostar Grand Hotel Mencey.

All 13 Parties to the Agreement will attend, as will observers from Canada, Namibia and the United States of America.  In addition representatives from the Convention on Migratory Species and BirdLife International will be present (click here for a list of meeting participants).

The Session will be chaired by Mr Ricardo Losa Giménez (Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores y de Cooperación, Spain) with Dr Marco Favero, Chair of ACAP’s Advisory Committee as the meeting’s Vice Chair.

MoP5 will hear the report of its Advisory Committee, which last met in Punta del Este, Uruguay in September last year (click here).  Other matters for discussion include the nomination of Chile’s endemic Pink-footed Shearwater Puffinus creatopus for listing as ACAP’s 31st species and second shearwater, criteria for listing and de-listing species on Annex 1, lethal experimentation and identifying prospective new Parties to the Agreement.


Pink-footed Shearwater, photograph by Peter Hodum

Click here to access the provisional agenda for the meeting and here to download the 29 meeting documents.

The last Meeting of the Parties was held in Lima, Peru in April 2012, following previous sessions in Peru (2009), New Zealand (2006) and Australia (2004) (click here).

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 02 May 2015

The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission and the Albatross and Petrel Agreement renew their Memorandum of Understanding

The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) has been holding its 19th Session in Busan, Korea this week.  Among the matters discussed was a proposal to renew the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Commission and the Albatross and Petrel Agreement (click here).

The original MoU between the IOTC and ACAP came into force on 3 April 2009 at the 13th Meeting of the Commission to last for a period of five years (click here), and has thus expired.  Following intersessional discussion by the IOTC Members a slightly revised version has been adopted in Busan for a further five-year period.

The new MoU will continue to facilitate cooperation between the IOTC and the ACAP Secretariat with a view to supporting efforts to minimise the incidental bycatch of albatrosses and petrels listed in Annex 1 of the Agreement within the IOTC area of competence.

Amsterdam Albatross, an Indian Ocean endemic, photograph by Kirk Zufelt 

The following text is taken from the MoU adopted at the IOTC meeting:

“Both sides may establish and maintain consultation, co-operation and collaboration in respect of matters of common interest to both sides for the:

a) development of systems for collecting and analysing data, and exchanging information concerning the incidental bycatch of seabirds in the area of competence of the IOTC;

b) exchange of information regarding management approaches relevant to the conservation of albatrosses and petrels;

c) implementation of education and awareness programmes for fishers who operate in areas where albatrosses and petrels may be encountered;

d) design, testing and implementation of seabird bycatch mitigation measures relevant to fishing operations in the area of competence of the IOTC;

e) development of training programs on conservation techniques and measures to mitigate threats affecting albatrosses and petrels; and

f) exchange of expertise, techniques and knowledge relevant to the conservation of albatrosses and petrels in the area of competence of the IOTC; and

g) reciprocal participation with observer status at the relevant meetings of each organisation.”

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 01 May 2015

Back to the mainland. What are the next challenges for New Zealand after successful efforts to eradicate aliens on its seabird islands?

James Russell (School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, New Zealand) and colleagues have published open-access in the journal BioScience on what should be future directions following the successful eradication of invasive species on New Zealand islands.  The authors suggest commencing with an eradication exercise on 27 761-ha Aotea/Great Barrier Island before moving to the New Zealand mainland.  The inhabited island supports Norway or Brown Rats Rattus norvegicus, Pacific Rats R. exulans, feral Domestic Cats Felis catus and feral pigs Sus scrofa.  Their eradication would help the island’s population of ACAP-listed and Vulnerable Black Petrels Procellaria parkinsoni.

“With the right tools and social investment, history has shown what transformations can be achieved.  We would be foolish not to imagine what can be achieved 50 years from now.”

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Eradications of invasive species from over 1000 small islands around the world have created conservation arks, but to truly address the threat of invasive species to islands, eradications must be scaled by orders of magnitude.  New Zealand has eradicated invasive predators from 10% of its offshore island area and now proposes a vision to eliminate them from the entire country.  We review current knowledge of invasive predator ecology and control technologies in New Zealand and the biological research, technological advances, social capacity and enabling policy required.  We discuss the economic costs and benefits and conclude with a 50-year strategy for a predator-free New Zealand that is shown to be ecologically obtainable, socially desirable, and economically viable.  The proposal includes invasive predator eradication from the two largest offshore islands, mammal-free mainland peninsulas, very large ecosanctuaries, plus thousands of small projects that will together merge eradication and control concepts on landscape scales.”


Black Petrels, photograph by Biz Bell

Read a post by its senior author on the publication here.


Russell, J.C., Innes, J.G., Brown, P.H. & Byrom, A.E. 2015.  Predator-free New Zealand: conservation country.  BioScience 65: 520-525.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 30 April 2015

Planning the eradication of introduced House Mice on New Zealand’s Antipodes Island

House Mice Mus musculus were introduced to New Zealand’s Antipodes Island in the middle of the 20th century.  Since then evidence has been mounting of their deleterious effects on the island’s plants, invertebrates and birds (click here).  The island group supports seven species of ACAP-listed albatrosses and petrels, of which the five that breed on the main island are potentially at risk to attacks by mice.

Following a successful campaign to raise a million New Zealand Dollars, plans are now firming up by the Department of Conservation to eradicate the island’s mice (the sole introduced mammal) in the austral winter of 2016.  An edited timeline for next year’s intended bait drop follows:

“Late May 2016 – Charter ship departs for Antipodes Islands.  Transport and aerial off load of supplies to the island, including aviation fuel, temporary accommodation structure, helicopters x 2, bait buckets, food, approximately 12 personnel, other equipment including; generators, spare parts for machinery including helicopters and buckets, fuels, bait in weatherproof pods.

June 2016– Mouse eradication operation commences. Two applications of bait [to be made] a minimum of 14 days apart.

Pack up (deconstruction of heli-platform, bait pods, hangar setup, accommodation, load ship with helicopters) and return to mainland New Zealand once operation completed.”

Antipodean Albatrosses: at risk to mice?  Photograph by Erica Sommer

After at least two mouse breeding seasons following the eradication exercise a team of two rodent detection dogs and their handlers will work with a small team of monitoring staff to search the island for signs of mice.  Monitoring tools may also include ink-tracking cards, wax tags and chew cards.  The results of the planned monitoring will show whether the eradication effort was successful or not.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 29 April 2015

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.

About ACAP

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