Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

Ramsar Sites supporting breeding populations of ACAP-listed species

The Convention on Wetlands, signed in Ramsar, Iran in 1971, is an intergovernmental treaty which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.  There are currently 163 Contracting Parties to the Convention, with 265 wetland sites, totalling over 197 million hectares, designated for inclusion in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.

A listing and brief descriptions of Ramsar sites supporting breeding populations of ACAP-listed species follows.


Réserve Naturelle Nationale des Terres Australes Françaises

Date of Inscription: 15 September 2008

Terres Australes et Antarctiques Françaises; 2 270 000 ha; [43° 07'S 063° 51'E]. Nature Reserve.  In the southern Indian Ocean, two sub-Antarctic archipelagos - Crozet and Kerguelen - and the cool temperate islands of Amsterdam and Saint-Paul. The site includes a great variety of inland and marine coastal wetland types such as peatlands, marshes, and lakes but also rocky shores, estuaries and fjords. The islands are widely separated by open sea, and so the centre coordinate given above is purely notional. The Reserve supports many endemic species, amongst which the ducks Anas eatoni drygalski and A. e. eatoni are also considered Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List. The islands represent an important refuge and reproduction ground for millions of migratory birds. Many marine mammals such as the Southern Elephant Seal Mirounga leonina and the Sub-Antarctic Fur Seal Arctocephalus tropicalis are well represented here with a population of 130 000 individuals in Kerguelen and around 27 000 in Saint Paul and Amsterdam. The major threat is due to the introduction of non-native species like cats and rats that are leading to the population decline of many bird species. Ramsar Site No. 1837.

ACAP species breedingAmsterdam Petrel, Wandering Albatross, Black-browed Albatross, Grey-headed Albatross, Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross, Salvin's Albatross, Sooty Albatross, Light-mantled Sooty Albatross, Northern Giant Petrel, Southern Giant Petrel, White-chinned Petrel, Grey Petrel (12)


Reserva de la Biosfera Archipiélago de Revillagigedo

Date of Inscription: 02 February 2004

Mexican Island Territory; 636 685 ha; 18° 50'N, 112° 47'W. Reserva de la Biosfera. Nearly 400 km offshore in the Pacific Ocean, this volcanic archipelago is home to a unique set of endemic flora and fauna as well as well-preserved terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Isla Socorro is the largest island, with the Evermann volcano peaking at 1050 m, followed by Clarión, San Benedicto and Roca Partida Islands. Socorro presents an interesting array of vegetation following the altitudinal gradient, featuring coastal halophytes, shrubs of Dodonaea viscosa, Guettarda insularis, Croton masonii; forests of Figs Ficus cotinifolia, Bumelia socorroensis and Psidium galapageium. Ten endemic species and subspecies of birds have been recorded in Socorro; however, three of them, including the Soccorro Dove Zenaida graysoni are considered extinct in the wild (there are plans of reintroduction with several captive individuals in Germany). The site is well preserved and uninhabited, apart from some navy officers. Diving and fishing groups visit the islands regularly. Volcanic eruptions, hurricanes and fires pose risks to the islands' wildlife, but invasive species remain the main threat. The Federal Government funds a group of technicians to eradicate introduced sheep, pigs and rabbits. A management plan is in place. Ramsar Site No. 1357.

ACAP species breeding: Laysan Albatross, Black-footed Albatross (2)


Prince Edward Islands

Date of Inscription: 22 May 2007

37 500 ha. Includes the larger Marion Island (46° 54'S, 037° 45'E) and the smaller Prince Edward Island (46° 38'S, 037° 57'E), which are classified as sub-Antarctic and are of volcanic origin. They are protected natural habitats and do not support any consumptive or exploitative activities. The three main terrestrial habitats are unvegetated uplands, well-drained vegetated slopes, and poorly-drained vegetated coastal plains. Significant wetland formations include non-forested peat lands (swamps and bogs), intermittent streams, waterfalls, freshwater ponds, crater lakes, rocky marine shores, kelp beds, sea cliffs and sand shores. The islands host numerous breeding seabirds like the Vulnerable Wandering Albatrosses Diomedea exulans and White-chinned Petrels Procellaria aequinoctialis and the Endangered Sooty Albatross Phoebetria fusca and Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross Thalassarche carteri. Four penguin species breed and moult on the rocky areas around the coastline; the King Penguin Aptenodytes patagonicus, Gentoo Penguin Pygoscelis papua, Macaroni Penguin Eudyptes chrysolophus and Eastern Rockhopper Penguin E. chrysocome filholi. Commercial tourism and fishing within territorial waters are prohibited. The principal activities on these islands since their annexation by South Africa in 1947 and 1948 include meteorological observations, scientific research, logistic support for research and conservation and management activities. Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing for Patagonian Toothfish Dissostichus eleginoides in the surrounding waters caused reduction in fish stock and high levels of incidental mortality of seabirds. This has declined in recent years, however. Ramsar Site No. 1688.

ACAP species breedingWandering Albatross, Grey-headed Albatross, Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross, Sooty Albatross, Light-mantled Sooty Albatross, Northern Giant Petrel, Southern Giant Petrel, White-chinned Petrel, Grey Petrel (9)


Sea Lion Island

Date of Inscription: 24 September 2001

1,000 ha; 52° 25'S, 059° 05'W. An isolated island 17 km off the southern tip of East Falkland, Ramsar's second southernmost site, notable as an important breeding site for Southern Sea Lion Otaria byronia and Southern Elephant Seal Mirounga leonina. Despite a history of sheep ranching, the extent and condition of stands of Tussac Grass Paradiochloa flabellata are particularly good. Shallow marine waters, seagrass beds, both rocky and sandy shores, brackish lagoons, freshwater pools, and peat bogs are all present within the site. Vulnerable and Endangered birds such as Cobb's Wren Troglodytes cobbi and Ruddy-headed Goose Chloephaga rubidiceps are supported, and a number of endemic bird species breed there, as do Gentoo, Rockhopper, and Magellanic Penguins Spheniscus magellanicus and Southern Giant Petrels. A lodge with 15 beds is available for wildlife tourists, and a small number of tourists make day visits by boat and helicopter, causing no disturbance. Ramsar Site No. 1104.

ACAP species breeding: Southern Giant Petrel (1)


Gough Island Nature Reserve

Ramsar Site No. 1868

Date of Designation: 20 November 2008

229 811 ha; 40º 19’S 009º 56’W. World Heritage Site and an Important Bird Area.  The site includes Gough Island and surrounding territorial waters. Gough Island is one of the largest relatively unmodified cool temperate island ecosystems in the southern hemisphere. Important wetland types include non-forested peatlands, permanent freshwater pools, permanent streams, marine subtidal aquatic beds and rocky marine shores. The island is a strong contender for the title of the most important seabird colony in the world – a total of 22 bird species and two species of seals breed, some in very large numbers. Several bird species that breed on Gough are considered globally threatened (e.g., Sooty Albatross, Northern Rockhopper Penguin), and some are endemic to the island group (e.g., Gough Moorhen, Gough Bunting, Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross). A South African meteorological station is currently operated on the island; other human activities include research, commercial fishery for Tristan Rock Lobster Jasus tristani in Gough territorial waters, and limited recreational fishing under license.

ACAP species breeding: Tristan Albatross, Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross, Sooty Albatross, Southern Giant Petrel, Grey Petrel (5)

Inaccessible Island Nature Reserve

Date of Designation: 20 November 2008

126 524 ha; 37º 18’S 012º 41’W. World Heritage Site and an Important Bird Area.  The site includes Inaccessible Island and surrounding territorial waters. Inaccessible Island is a near-pristine cool temperate island of volcanic origin. A total of 24 species of seabirds and land birds as well as the Subantarctic Fur Seal Arctocephalus tropicalis breed, some in very large numbers. Non-forested peatlands and rocky marine shores are critical to the survival of the breeding populations of Tristan Albatross (relict population of 2-3 pairs) and Spectacled Petrel (island endemic), and Northern Rockhopper Penguin and Sooty Albatross, respectively, all of which are globally threatened. Other important wetland types include permanent freshwater pools, permanent streams and marine subtital aquatic beds. There is no permanent human population – from time to time small numbers of researchers and conservation management teams visit the island. Commercial fishery for Tristan Rock Lobster and limited recreational fishing under license take place in Inaccessible’s territorial waters.  Ramsar Site No. 1869.

ACAP species breeding: Tristan Albatross, Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross, Sooty Albatross, Spectacled Petrel (4)

AUSTRALIA has earlier identified Macquarie Island and Heard & McDonald Islands as potential Ramsar sites (click here), but apparently has decided not to progress their designations.

Site descriptions adapted from the Ramsar web site.

*A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (Islas Georgias del Sur y Islas Sandwich del Sur) and the surrounding maritime areas.

Last updated 12 January 2013