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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Surveying White-chinned Petrels: which census method is best?

Ben Dilley (FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town, South Africa) and colleagues have published in the journal Antarctic Science on methods of surveying burrow-breeding petrels, including ACAP-listed and globally Vulnerable White-chinned Petrels Procellaria aequinoctialis, at Marion Island.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“We compared systematic and random survey techniques to estimate breeding population sizes of burrow-nesting petrel species on Marion Island. White-chinned (Procellaria aequinoctialis) and blue (Halobaena caerulea) petrel population sizes were estimated in systematic surveys (which attempt to count every colony) in 2009 and 2012, respectively. In 2015, we counted burrows of white-chinned, blue and great-winged (Pterodroma macroptera) petrels within 52 randomized strip transects (25 m wide, total 144 km). Burrow densities were extrapolated by Geographic Information System-derived habitat attributes (geology, vegetation, slope, elevation, aspect) to generate island-wide burrow estimates. Great-winged petrel burrows were found singly or in small groups at low densities (2 burrows ha−1); white-chinned petrel burrows were in loose clusters at moderate densities (3 burrows ha−1); and blue petrel burrows were in tight clusters at high densities (13 burrows ha−1). The random survey estimated 58% more white-chinned petrels but 42% fewer blue petrels than the systematic surveys. The results suggest that random transects are best suited for species that are widely distributed at low densities, but become increasingly poor for estimating population sizes of species with clustered distributions. Repeated fixed transects provide a robust way to monitor changes in colony density and area, but might fail to detect the formation/disappearance of new colonies.”

 

White-chinned Petrels, photograph by Ben Phalan

Reference:

Dilley, B.J., Hedding, D.W., Henry, D.A.W., Rexer-Huber, K., Parker, G.C., Schoombie, S., Osborne, A. & Ryan, P.G. 2019.  Clustered or dispersed: testing the effect of sampling strategy to census burrow-nesting petrels with varied distributions at sub-Antarctic Marion Island.  Antarctic Science doi:10.1017/S0954102019000415.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 19 November 2019

World Albatross Day on the Bounty Islands: New Zealand joins the banner challenge

As the austral summer commences albatrosses are starting their breeding seasons on islands in the Southern Ocean.  In tandem researchers are venturing south and out into the field on these sub-Antarctic islands to continue their monitoring studies of especially Thallasarche mollymauks.  At the request of ACAP some have been taking home-made banners with them to advertise next year’s inauguration of World Albatross Day on 19 June.

Following displays of banners on French, South African and UK islands close to breeding albatrosses, New Zealand has now joined the ‘banner challenge’.

Graham Parker and Kalinka Rexer-Huber of the New Zealand-based environmental consultancy Parker Conservation visited the sub-Antarctic Bounty Islands last month – with a banner in their luggage.  Along with veteran (now retired) New Zealand albatross researcher, Paul Sagar, they conducted demographic and at-sea tracking research on globally Vulnerable (and Nationally Critical) Salvin's Albatrosses T. salvini on the Bounty Main Group’s Proclamation Island where they displayed their banner.  Their research was under subcontract from New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA).

From left: Graham Parker, Kalinka Rexer-Huber and Paul Sagar display their World Albatross Day banner behind breeding Salvin’s Albatrosses, Proclamation Island, Bounty Islands, 24 October 2019; photograph by Bill Morris

Graham writes to ACAP Latest News of their banner display: “Note that real-estate is at a premium on the islands, so we couldn't get any farther away from albies than we are in the photo.  They are a fairly tolerant species though, sharing the space with New Zealand Fur Seals [Arctocephalus forsteri] gives them no choice!”

Graham and Kalinka spent the 2009/10 year on the UK’s Gough Island in the South Atlantic working on the island’s seabirds.  Since then they have continued island work together on albatrosses and petrels back home in New Zealand, with Kalinka gaining her PhD on a study of White-chinned Petrels Procellaria aequinoctialis on sub-Antarctic Auckland and Campbell Islands in 2017.

Kalinka has written in support of World Albatross Day:  “Albatrosses wander across political borders as readily as they blur sea-sky boundaries, challenging conservation to be truly international and collaborative.  World Albatross Day celebrates albatrosses at a fittingly international scale.”

Not to be outdone Graham has also sent in his ‘WAD Quote’ to ACAP: “Albatrosses are emblems of pure wilderness.  The greatest contiguous wilderness on earth is the Southern Ocean, and nothing rules that mass of mountainous ocean swells and roaring, furious and screaming winds than albatrosses.  Soaring from trough to peak with heart rates the same as when sitting ashore, albatrosses are superbly adapted to our vast southern wilderness.”

Paul Sagar (retired, Marine Ecology Group, NIWA) writes: “Albatrosses nest on some of the most remote islands of the world and travel the High Seas far from land.  Yet they still suffer from the effects of a range of human activities that threaten their existence.  A World Albatross Day is an excellent way to raise awareness of the plight of these iconic seabirds.”

Parker Conservation’s home-made World Albatross Day banner is going to be well-travelled come the end of the 2019/20 summer.  Plans are afoot to take it to Campbell Island this month for monitoring of five albatross species, followed by the Auckland Islands in December/January, and the Snares in March.  ACAP Latest News is looking forward to seeing the photographs!

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 18 November 2019

Job opportunity with the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources for a Fishery Monitoring and Compliance Manager

The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), an intergovernmental organisation based in Hobart, Australia, invites applications for the position of Fishery Monitoring and Compliance Manager.

 

“This is a leadership position in the CCAMLR Secretariat, taking responsibility for the delivery of fishery monitoring and compliance work remitted to the Secretariat in respect of all fisheries operating in the CCAMLR Convention Area.  Accountable directly to the Executive Secretary, you will work with your team and with Members throughout the year to ensure that CCAMLR fisheries are conducted in compliance with conservation measures and are managed within the catch limits set by the Commission.  The post is also responsible for the management of the trade-based Catch Document Scheme for toothfish and liaison with Contracting Parties and non-Contracting Parties to ensure its effective implementation.”

Applications (from nationals of CCAMLR Member countries only) must be submitted by 6 December 2019.

Read more details here:

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 17 November 2019

UPDATED. Antipodean Albatross proposed for Appendix I of the Convention on Migratory Species

UPDATE:

The Sessional Committee of the Scientific Council (ScC-SC4) of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) has endorsed the proposal of New Zealand, Australia and Chile to list the Antipodean Albatross Diomedea antipodensis on Appendix 1 of the Convention. A proposal for Concerted Action on this species was also endorsed by the ScC-SC.  Both the proposals for listing (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.27.1.7) and for Concerted Action (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.28.2.12) will now be considered by COP13, to be held in India in February 2020.

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The Fourth Meeting of the Sessional Committee of the Scientific Council (ScC-SC4) of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) will be held from 12 to 15 November 2019 at the UNEP/CMS Secretariat premises in Bonn, Germany.

“ScC-SC4 being the last meeting of the Scientific Council before the 13th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CMS (COP13), its main objective will be to provide advice on scientific and technical matters to the COP”.  The 13th Meeting will be held in Gandhinagar, India over 17 - 22 February 2020.

The Governments of New Zealand, Australia and Chile have submitted a proposal (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.27.1.7; also available in French and Spanish) to COP13 for the inclusion of the ACAP-listed and globally Endangered Antipodean Albatross Diomedea antipodensis on Appendix I of the CMS.  The species is a breeding endemic of New Zealand but migrates outside the breeding season to the waters of both Australia and Chile.  The proposal will be first considered at ScC-SC4 so that a recommendation on the species’ inclusion can be made at COP13.  It describes four major threats faced by the two recognized subspecies of the albatross.  These are given in order of importance as fisheries bycatch, predation by introduced mammals, plastic pollution, and climate change.  The proposal considers the sudden and rapid population decline of the Antipodean Albatross since 2004 as unprecedented amongst the world’s 22 species of albatrosses.  An Appendix I listing is therefore considered justified to raise the level of concern and international awareness of the plight of the species.

An Antipodean Albatross pair on Antipodes Island, photograph by Erica Sommer

The species is currently identified as a species of special concern by ACAP.  It is already listed on Appendix II of CMS.  Appendix I status, if approved for a Concerted Action in India in February at COP13 has the following required actions as set out in the Convention Text:

“Parties that are Range States of a migratory species listed in Appendix I shall endeavour:

  1. a) to conserve and, where feasible and appropriate, restore those habitats of the species which are of importance in removing the species from danger of extinction;
  2. b) to prevent, remove, compensate for or minimize, as appropriate, the adverse effects of activities or obstacles that seriously impede or prevent the migration of the species; and
  3. c) to the extent feasible and appropriate, to prevent, reduce or control factors that are endangering or are likely to further endanger the species, including strictly controlling the introduction of, or controlling or eliminating, already introduced exotic species.”

Anticipated benefits of Appendix I listing include increased cooperation between Range States, Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs), ACAP, non-governmental organisations and other concerned parties to improve the uptake and effectiveness of bycatch mitigation use, including compliance monitoring and bycatch data collection, and to reduce the capture of Antipodean Albatrosses in longline fisheries.  “It may also incentivise development of advocacy and educational material to fishers and fishing companies about the threat status of this bird.  These measures should assist in reducing the high mortality rate currently driving the decline of the species.  In particular, bycatch reduction over the foraging range of female Diomedea antipodensis antipodensis will address the most urgent conservation issue regarding the extremely high mortality rate amongst these birds.” [adapted from UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.27.1.7].

With thanks to Barry Baker.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 06 November 2019, updated 16 November 2019

The 7th North American Ornithological Conference is to be held in the Caribbean next August

The 7th North American Ornithological Conference (NAOC2020) will be held in San Juan, Puerto Rico over 10-15 August 2020 with the theme “Flight paths addressing global change”.

 “We seek a suite of thematic sessions at NAOC2020 that will cover a wide range of timely topics highlighting exciting advances in ornithological research, management, education, and conservation.”

The submission deadline for suggestions for Symposia, Round Table Discussions and Workshops & Training Opportunities is 01 December.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 16 November 2019

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