The US National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) last week reported the incidental take of a Vulnerable Short-tailed Albatross Phoebastria albatrus in the hook-and-line groundfish fishery of the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands Management Area (BSAI) off Alaska on 7 September (click here). A second as yet unidentified albatross was taken on the same haul. The Short-tailed Albatross was banded, identifying it as a five-year old bird from the breeding colony on Torishima, Japan.
The last three documented takes of Short-tailed Albatrosses in Alaskan waters were in August 2010, September 2010 and October 2011. The Short-tailed Albatross is protected in Alaskan waters by the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Short-tailed Albatrosses in Alaskan waters, photograph by Rob Suryan
Ten Short-tailed Albatrosses taken by Alaskan groundfish fisheries since 1987 (red stars), with the latest bird marked by a green star
“As a result of consultation with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) under the ESA, USFWS issued an incidental take statement of four birds during each two-year period for the BSAI and Gulf of Alaska (GOA) hook-and-line groundfish fisheries. In instances where the amount or extent of incidental take is exceeded, reinitiation [sic] of formal ESA consultation is required. This is the first take in the two-year period that began on September 16, 2013. To date, the incidental take levels have not been reached during the current or any previous Biological Opinions.”
Information on mitigation measures required in the fishery can be found on the Seabird Avoidance Gear and Methods webpage.
With thanks to Beth Flint for information.
John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 19 September 2014