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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ACAP produces conservation guideline posters on removing fishing hooks from live albatrosses and petrels

ACAP has recently produced two posters it its Conservation Guideline Series that explain how to remove fishing hooks from live albatrosses and petrels.

The posters are now available for downloading on this website.  An A3 version is suitable for wall display, while a two-page A4 version can be laminated back-to-back and kept at the ready with fishing equipment – along with the illustrated items (pliers, knife, etc.) required to remove longline and other hooks from live birds harmlessly.

The A3 poster

 

The two-page A4 poster

The new guidelines follow on from three others previously produced: on eradication in 2009, on biosecurity in 2011, and on census methods in 2013 (click here).  A fifth conservation guideline document, on diseases, is in production.

It is intended that printed versions of the hook removal guideline posters will be made available at the next meeting of ACAP’s Advisory Committee (AC8) and of two of its working groups, due to be held in Punta del Este, Uruguay this September (click here).

A similar hook removal poster and guidelines has been produced by the New Zealand-based Southern Seabird Solutions Trust, with a separate poster produced especially for anglers.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 19 March 2014

Fluttering Shearwater translocation in New Zealand is a learning experience for Kauai’s Newell’s Shearwaters and Ramsay’s Manx Shearwaters

New Zealand is a world leader in developing techniques for and undertaking the translocation of burrowing seabird chicks to create new or restore extinct colonies.  Translocation attempts in New Zealand have included such procellariiform species as the ACAP-listed Black Petrel Procellaria parkinsoni, Grey-faced Petrel Pterodroma macroptera gouldi, Taiko or Magenta Petrel P. magenta, Chatham Petrel P. axillaris, Pycroft’s Petrel P. pycroftiHutton’s Shearwater Puffinus huttoni, Fluttering Shearwater P. gavia, Common Diving Petrel Pelecanoides urinatrix and Fairy Prion Pachyptila turtur. Click here and here for earlier ACAP Latest News items on some of these translocation efforts.

New Zealand (and Australian) expertise has led to translocation efforts being attempted in other parts of the World.  An example is the Critically Endangered Bermuda Petrel or Cahow Pterodroma cahow (click here).

A project to reintroduce Fluttering Shearwaters to 25-ha Matiu/Somes Island Scientific and Historic Reserve in Wellington Harbour has led to further international collaborations.  In 2006 and again in 2010 solar-powered sound systems were installed to attract adult birds to artificial burrows with some success: by 2013 a few eggs had been laid but none hatched.

Matiu/Somes Island Scientific and Historic Reserve in Wellington Harbour

Photograph by John Cooper

An adult Fluttering Shearwater in an artifical burrow on Matiu/Somes Island

Photograph by Shane Cotter

Following on from this attraction effort 80 Fluttering Shearwater chicks have been brought each year over the period 2012-2014 to Matiu/Somes from Long Island in Queen Charlotte Sound, placed in artificial burrows and fed by hand on “sardine smoothies” as they completed their growth.  Nearly all of these chicks successfully fledged each year (click here for more information on this translocation exercise).  The operation has been led by the Matiu/Somes Island Charitable Trust with support from the New Zealand Department of Conservation.

The lids of the 93 artificial burrows are sequentially numbered; half the colony can be seen, photograph by Mike Rumble

A Fluttering Shearwater chick in its artificial burrow, photograph by David Cornick  

A chick about to be collected from its burrow for feeding.  The internal blockade stops the chicks exiting the burrow too early, photograph by David Cornick 

Inside the feeding shed with two chicks being fed sardine smoothies

Photograph by Alison Ballance 

Detailed records are kept for each translocated chick

Photograph by David Cornick

In 2012 the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) Warden from Ramsey Island in Wales visited Matiu/Somes to see the translocation site and particular the nest boxes utilized.  Similar boxes have now been installed in a Manx Shearwaters P. puffinus study colony on Ramsay as part of a research effort (click here).

This year the Kaua'i Endangered Seabird Recovery Project and Pacific Rim Conservation from the USA’s Hawaiian Islands were invited to assist with the project and to observe the techniques. This gained knowledge will help guide work with Endangered Newell's Shearwaters P. newelli on Kauai where it is intended to translocate chicks into the to-be-fenced area at Nihoku (click here) in the next few years.

A further international connection was when a field trip to the colony as part of the 5th International Albatross and Petrel Conference that was held in Wellington in August 2012.  A number of international delegates took this opportunity including from Japan and the USA.

Click here to read of a current New Zealand effort translocating Cook’s Petrels Pterodroma cookii.

With thanks to Alison Balance, Shane Cotter, Helen Gummer, David Cornick, Andre Raine and Mike Rumble for information and photographs.

Selected Literature:

Anden Consulting 2013.  Draft Environmental Assessment Nihoku Ecosystem Restoration Project Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge Kaua‘i, Hawai‘i September 2013.  Honolulu: Anden Consulting.  169 pp.

Bell, M., Bell, B.D. & Bell, E.A. 2005.  Translocation of Fluttering Shearwater (Puffinus gavia) chicks to create a new colony.  Notornis 52: 11-15.

Gaze, P. & Cash, B. 2008.  A history of wildlife translocations in the Marlborough Sounds.  DOC Occasional Publication No. 72.  Wellington: Department of Conservation.  23 pp.

Gummer, H. & Adams, L. 2010.  Translocation techniques for fluttering shearwaters (Puffinus gavia): establishing a colony on Mana Island, New Zealand.  Wellington: Department of Conservation.  52 pp.

Miskelly, C.M. & Taylor, G.A. 2004.  Establishment of a colony of Common Diving Petrels (Pelecanoides urinatrix) by chick transfers and acoustic attraction.  Emu 104: 205-211.

Miskelly, C.M., Taylor, G.A., Gummer, H. & Williams, R. 2009.  Translocations of eight species of burrow-nesting seabirds (genera Pterodroma, Pelecanoides, Pachyptila and Puffinus: Family Procellariidae).  Biological Conservation 142: 1965-1980.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 18 March 2014

90 000 Yelkouan Shearwaters flying through the Bosphorus in four hours may equal the species’ total population

In the course of the Bosphorus Coastal Count Marathon by the Yelkouan Shearwater Project Turkey 90 000 Vulnerable Yelkouan Shearwaters Puffinus yelkouan were counted flying south in four hours on 5 February 2014 in the strait between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea (click here).  Birds flying north were not included in the count.

 Yelkouan Shearwaters

Following the 73 000 birds counted on 4 February 2012 (also reported as 75 000) and 53 000 in 2011, this new count approaches the maximum value for the estimated population in the Mediterranean Basin: “[f]igures point to a total of 15,337-30,519 pairs equating to 46,000-92,000 individuals based on a population assessment covering the species's [sic] entire range.” (click here)

Yelkouan Shearwater Project Turkey aims at determining seasonal changes in the movements and numbers of Yelkouan Shearwaters in the Sea of Marmara, and in the two straits linking it to the Aegean (Dardanelles) and Black (Bosphorus) Seas.

The Yelkouan Shearwater has been proposed for listing within the Albatross and Petrel Agreement (click here).

Photographs from Yelkouan Shearwater Project Turkey. 

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 17 March 2014

Juan Pablo Seco Pon, ACAP’s South American News Correspondent, is awarded his PhD for a study of seabird-trawler interactions

Juan Pablo Seco Pon (Laboratorio de Vertebrados, Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, Argentina) and ACAP South American News Correspondent has been awarded his PhD with distinction by the National University of Mar del Plata this month for his study of the interactions between pelagic seabirds and Argentinian trawlers.

The English abstract of his thesis follows:

“This thesis addresses various aspects of the interaction between pelagic seabirds and the commercial ice trawl fishery targeting hake Merluccius hubbsi in Argentine waters.  The information was collected at sea on board trawlers pertaining to this fleet.  The results presented here clearly highlight the importance of fishery discard triggering the attendance of seabirds and the effect it has on the abundance and composition of the assemblages, as well as on the level of interactions.  We quantified in detail the interactions with different sections of the fishing gear and showed the importance of the net-sonde cable in seabird contact rate.  We also assessed the ecosystem value from the use of fish by-catch reduction devices, particularly focusing on its effect on seabird abundance and interaction levels.  The ice trawl fleet produces large quantities of discards (unwanted species and sizes) which are taken by seabirds.  Although such use of discards can be considered as a trophic “subside” [subsidy] from the fishery, it is clear that for species with history traits like albatrosses and petrels the negative impact in terms of incidental mortality largely overwhelms any positive effect of such subside.  The strategic management of discards in this fishing fleet (as in other fishing gears and fleets) should be the priority to be deepened in the national agenda to solve the problem of incidental mortality of seabirds.”

 

Juan Pablo aboard a longliner in the South Atlantic 

Juan Pablo works within the Vertebrate Research Group at the National University of Mar del Plata which is headed by Marco Favero, who has been Chair of ACAP’s Advisory Committee since 2007.

The ACAP Secretariat extends its congratulations to Juan Pablo and looks forward to a continued collaboration.

With thanks to Marco Favero for information.

Reference:

Seco Pon, J.P. 2014.  Asociacion de aves marinas pelagicas a la flota de arrastre de altura: characterizacion integral de las interacciones y desarrollo de una estrategia de conservacion para especies amenazadas.  [Seabirds attending the high-seas trawl fleet: comprehensive characterisation of interactions and development of a conservation strategy for threatened species].  PhD Thesis, Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, Argentina.  161 pp.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 16 March 2014

Reducing bycatch of Scopoli’s Shearwaters by Spanish longliners in the Mediterranean

José Báez and colleagues (Centro Oceanográfico de Málaga, Instituto Español de Oceanografía, Málaga, Spain) have published in the journal Biodiversity and Conservation on how to avoid Scopoli’s Shearwaters Calonectris diomedea (a potential ACAP candidate species) being caught by Spanish longliners in the Mediterranean.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Cory’s shearwater Calonectris diomedea is the main seabird species by-caught by the Spanish longline fleet operating in the western Mediterranean Sea.  Identification of the principal factors that determine this by-catch and understanding how they could be controlled is fundamental for improving the management of fisheries and so carry out a better conservation of Cory’s shearwater populations in the Mediterranean.  The aim of this paper was to model the longline by-catch of Mediterranean Cory’s shearwater in the Spanish Mediterranean longline fishery as a function of time of the year, technical characteristics of the fishing operation, and geographical location.  We used data recorded by an onboard observer program monitoring commercial longline fisheries. During the 10 years covered in this study, 80 birds were captured in 30 fishing operations out of a total of 2,587 observed fishing sets.  We used favourability functions and Random Forest analyses to relate the presence of Cory’s shearwater in the by-catch with the explanatory factors.  The most explanatory factor in relation to incidence of by-catch was the geographical location (longitude and fishing over the continental shelf) and then the technical characteristics of the fishing operation (number of hooks and fishing during non-working days).  Our conclusion is clear, because seabirds are more likely to approach longline vessels when trawlers are not allowed to operate (i.e. non-working days), activity of longliners should be limited to working days, and closing longliners activity during the month of October could reduce greatly reducing [sic] seabird bycatch.”

Cory's/Scopoli's Shearwater Calonectris borealis/diomedea at sea

Photograph by John Graham

With thanks to Richard Phillips for information.

Reference:

Báez, J.C., García-Barcelona, S.,  Mendoza, M., Ortiz de Urbina, J.M., Real, R. & Macías, D. 2014.  Cory’s shearwater by-catch in the Mediterranean Spanish commercial longline fishery: implications for management.  Biodiversity and Conservation 23: 661-681.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 15 March 2014

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