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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WWF launches its International Smart Gear Competition for 2014 to reduce bycatch in fisheries

WWF's International Smart Gear Competition, launched in 2004, brings together the fishing industry, research institutes, universities and government to inspire and reward practical, innovative fishing gear designs that reduce bycatch - the accidental catch and related deaths of sea turtles, birds, marine mammals, cetaceans and non-target fish species in fishing gear such as longlines and nets.

“Designed to inspire creative thinkers, Smart Gear is a call for innovative ideas that have practical applications for fishing “smarter”—for increasing selectivity for target fish species and reducing bycatch.  The competition invites submissions of practical, cost-effective solutions to reduce fisheries bycatch, and offers cash prizes totaling US$65,000.”

The individual prizes are a Grand Prize of $30 000, two runner-up prizes of $10 000, as well as $7500 as a Special Tuna Bycatch Reduction Prize that identifies a solution to reduce the amount of bycatch found in both purse seine and longline tuna fisheries in the waters of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, and $7500 as a Special Marine Mammal Bycatch Reduction Prize.

Competition judges include Svein Løkkeborg, International Marine Research, Norway and Ed Melvin, Washington Sea Grant, USA; both of whom have been involved with research aimed at mitigating seabird mortality by fishing vessels.

The competition opened on the first of March with an entry deadline of 31 August.  Click here for the competition entry rules.  After the prizes are awarded, WWF will work with each of the winners to bring their ideas to life and see them implemented in fisheries around the World.

At risk: Black-browed Albatrosses attempt to scavenge behind a trawler

Photograph by Sofia Copello

Past winners have included specially designed lights that reduce the bycatch of turtles in gillnets, and a device to reduce the bycatch of seabirds on tuna longlines (click here).

Find more news of the competition here.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 05 March 2014

Saving seabirds: ACAP announces eight awards from its 2014 round of grant opportunities

The results of the latest round of grant opportunities made by ACAP have now been announced.  Funding of approximately AUD 110 000 was available for allocation from the Advisory Committee (AC) Work Programme budget for 2013-14, with a maximum of AUD 20 000 available to be granted per individual project (click here).

Following consideration by the AC’s Grants Subcommittee a total of AUD 107 666 was awarded to eight projects chosen out of 21 applications received from 10 countries.  The successful applications are listed below.

Assessing the conservation status of the Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross on Gough Island, Tristan da Cunha; Juliet Vickery, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, UK; AUD 10 695

Comparative trials of Lumo Leads and traditional line weighting in the Brazilian pelagic longline fishery; Tatiana Neves, Projeto Albatroz, Brazil; AUD 10 000

A population estimate of White-chinned Petrel at Disappointment Island, Auckland Islands, New Zealand; David Thompson, NIWA, New Zealand; AUD 16 000

Reducir la mortalidad incidental de albatros y petreles en pesquerías de arrastre en el Mar Argentino. Un enfoque integrado para la conservación de especies amenazadas (Reducing incidental mortality of albatrosses and petrels in trawl fisheries in the Argentine Sea.  A comprehensive approach for the conservation of threatened species); Guillermo Cañete, Fundación Vida Silvestre Argentina, Argentina; AUD 10 000

Ensayo de medidas de mitigación para la reducción de capturas accidentales de aves marinas en los palangreros demersales del Mediterráneo (Trial of mitigation measures to reduce seabird bycatch in demersal longliners of the Mediterranean Sea); Jacob González-Solís, Universitat de Barcelona, Spain; AUD 19 985

Multi-colony tracking of nonbreeding Black-browed Albatrosses Thalassarche melanophris from the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas): identifying key wintering areas and zones of overlap with fisheries; April Hedd, Canada; AUD 12 500

Establishing capacity in South America to build knowledge on albatross and petrel health and prevent disease introduction; Marcela Uhart & Flavio Quintana, University of California, Davis, USA & Centro Nacional Patagónico, CONICET, Argentina; AUD 20 000

Identificación de zonas de alimentación de la Pardela Balear en el NE Atlántico: una aproximación multidiscliplinar (Identification of Balearic Shearwater's foraging ranges in the NE Atlantic: a multidisciplinary approach); Maite Louzao Arsuaga, Instituto Español de Oceanografía, Spain; AUD 8486

Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross chick and parent on Gough Island

Photograph by Kalinka Rexer-Huber

The next call for grant applications is expected to be made after the Eighth Meeting of ACAP’s Advisory Committee, to be held in September this year and before the Fifth Session of the Meeting of Parties, due to be held in 2015.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 04 March 2014

First record of a South Atlantic Wandering Albatross breeding in the southern Indian Ocean

A female Wandering Albatross Diomedea exulans carrying British Museum of Natural History band No. 4001481 has been reported by the Centre d'Etudes Biologiques de Chizé breeding on Île de la Possession, French Crozet Islands in the southern Indian Ocean during January 2014.

This bird was banded as a chick on 17 November 2005 in Wanderer Valley on Bird Island in the South Atlantic by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).  It has not been recorded back on the island since it fledged.

According to BAS records this is the first time a Bird Island bird has been seen ashore in the Crozets.  However, a French Wanderer (BS6639) banded as a chick in the Crozets on 8 January 1976 was recorded on Bird Island four years later on 25 January 1980: at quite a young age for a Wanderer to return to land.

In contrast, within the southern Indian Ocean interchange of over 60 Wandering Albatrosses has occurred between Possession and South Africa’s Marion and Prince Edward Islands, 1068 km apart, including of at least 19 fledglings from one locality breeding at the other.

Wandering Albatrosses on Bird Island, photograph by Richard Phillips

With thanks to Richard Phillips, Henri Weimerskirch and Andy Wood for information.

Selected Literature:

Cooper, J. & Weimerskirch, H. 2003.  Exchange of Wandering Albatrosses Diomedea exulans between the Prince Edward and Crozet Islands: implications for conservation.  African Journal of Marine Science 25: 519-523.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 03 March 2014

ACAP Breeding Site No. 64. Albatross Island, a monitoring site for Wandering Albatrosses and giant petrels in the South Atlantic

Albatross Island (c. 100 ha) lies in the Bay of Isles towards the northern end of South Georgia (Islas Georgias del Sur)* in the South Atlantic.

Approaching tussac-covered Albatross Island, photograph by Anton Wolfaardt

North-east Point on Albatross Island

The island’s vegetation is made up primarily of Tussac Grass Parodiochloa flabellataUnlike nearby Prion Island, Albatross Island is not open to tourism.  Although listed as a Specially Protected Area (SPA) it has not been formally so designated.  A permit is required to make a landing and a Code of Conduct has to be followed.  Albatross Island has been closed to all but researchers since 2004 and permits are issued only "under exceptional circumstances".  Unlike the nearby main island of South Georgia (Islas Georgias del Sur)*, Albatross Island has remained rodent free.

Annual visits to monitor incubating Wandering Albatrosses Diomedea exulans and other seabirds commenced in 1999 (click here).  A total of 129 pairs of Wandering Albatrosses was recorded on Albatross Island in January 2010, a continuing decrease from 140 pairs in 2009 and 174 pairs in 1999.  However, in 2012 140 pairs were present (click here), with 135 occupied nests reported for 2011, 133 in 2013 and 144 in  January 2014, the highest since 2008 (151) (click here).

"The surveyors think the pattern of numbers of breeding birds on the two islands [Albatross and Prion] in recent years shows the population is stabilising (with fluctuations), and is no longer decreasing over the longer term. However, without a wider survey of the population on the neighbouring islands, there is a possibility that the increase on these two islands may be influenced by birds from other islands moving from depleted colonies to areas where there are more birds. It is likely this possibility will be further assessed next year as a wider survey is currently at an early stage of planning."

Researchers' camp site on Albatross Island

 

Wanderers on Albatross Island, with the main island as a backdrop

Photographs by Sally Poncet unless stated

Four to nine pairs of Light-mantled Sooty Albatrosses Phoebetria fusca have been recorded on the island from 2008 to 2103.

Study colonies on Albatross Island in January 2010 supported 35 pairs of Southern Macronectes giganteus and 27 pairs of Northern M. halli Giant Petrels.  Equivalent figures for the 2012/2013 breeding season are 45 and 20.  Nest failure of giant petrels in 2010 is thought to have been due to heavy snowfalls earlier in the season with many recently abandoned nests seen in January 2010 (click here).  In the 1980s censuses on Albatross Island revealed 173 pairs of Southern and 89 pairs of Northern Giant Petrels.  Complete-island surveys in 1999 resulted in 216 pairs of Southerns and 89 pairs of Northerns, suggesting a level of stability.

In addition to the four ACAP-listed species above, the  White-chinned Petrel Procellaria aequinoctialis breeds on Albatross Island.  Monitoring of this burrow-nesting species is no longer carried out on the island due to concerns over habitat damage from trampling.  Antarctic Prions Pachyptila desolata, Blue Petrels Halobaena caerulea, Wilson’s Storm Petrels Oceanites oceanicus and Common Diving Petrels Pelecanoides urinatrix also breed in burrows on the island.

With thanks to Jennifer Lee, Sally Poncet and Anton Wolfaardt for information and photographs.

Selected Literature:

Burton, R. 2005.  South Georgia.  Second Edition.  [Stanley]: South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.  48 pp.

Burton, R. & Croxall, J.P. (Eds). 2012.  A Field Guide to the Wildlife of South Georgia.  Princeton: Princeton University Press.  WILDGuides & South Georgia Heritage Trust.  200 pp.

Croxall, J.P., Prince, P.A., Rothery, P. & Wood, A.G. 1998.  Population changes in albatrosses at South Georgia.  In: Robertson, G. & Gales, R. (Eds).  Albatross Biology and Conservation.  Chipping Norton: Surrey Beatty and Sons.  pp. 69-83.

Galbraith, D. 2011.  A Field Guide to the Flora of South Georgia.  Dundee: South Georgia Heritage Trust & WILDGuides.  72 pp.

Patterson, D.L., Woehler, E.J., Croxall, J.P., Cooper, J., Poncet, S., Peter, H.-U., Hunter, S. & Fraser, M.W. 2008.  Breeding distribution and population status of the Northern Giant Petrel Macronectes halli and Southern Giant Petrel M. giganteus.  Marine Ornithology 36: 115-124.

Martin, A.R., Poncet, S., Barbraud, C., Foster, E., Fretwell, P. & Rothery, P. 2009.  The white-chinned petrel (Procellaria aequinoctialis) on South Georgia: population size, distribution and global significance.  Polar Biology 32: 655-661.

McIntosch, E. & Walton, D.W.H. 2000.  Environmental Management Plan for South Georgia.  Cambridge: British Antarctic Survey.  105 pp.

Pasteur, L. & Walton, D.W.H. 2006.  South Georgia: Plan for Progress.  Managing the Environment. 2006-2010.  Cambridge: British Antarctic Survey: 74 pp.

Poncet, S. 2006.  South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.  In: Sanders, S.M. (Ed.).  Important Bird Areas in the United Kingdom Overseas Territories.  Sandy: Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.  pp. 211-226.

Poncet, S. 2010.  SGS Albatross and Prion Islands Monitoring Programme 2010 Report. Stanley: South Georgia Surveys unpublished report.  11 pp.

Poncet, S. & Crosbie, K. 2012.  A Visitor's Guide to South Georgia.  Second Edition.  Princeton: Princeton University Press.  184 pp.

Poncet, S., Robertson, G., Phillips, R.A., Lawton, K., Phalan, B., Trathan, P.N. & Croxall, J.P. 2006.  Status and distribution of wandering, black-browed and grey-headed albatrosses at South Georgia.  Polar Biology 29: 772-781.

Wolfaardt, A. & Christie, D. 2010.  Guidelines for the implementation of the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP) at South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.  Stanley: Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.  51 pp.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 02 March 2014

*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.

SCAR and COMNAP Antarctic Research Fellowships and CCAMLR Scientific Scholarships for 2014 on offer

The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programmes (COMNAP) and the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) are working together to attract talented early-career researchers, scientists, engineers and other professionals to strengthen international capacity and cooperation in fields such as climate, biodiversity, conservation, humanities and astrophysics research.

The SCAR and COMNAP Fellowships are worth up to US$15 000 each and up to five fellowships in total are on offer for 2014.  The fellowships enable early-career researchers to join a project team from another country, opening up new opportunities and often creating research partnerships that last many years and over many Antarctic research seasons.  The deadline for SCAR and COMNAP applications is 4 June 2014.

The SCAR and COMNAP schemes are launched in conjunction with the CCAMLR Scientific Scholarship Scheme.  The CCAMLR Scholarship provides funding of up to AU$ 30 000 to assist early-career scientists to participate in the work of the CCAMLR Scientific Committee and its working groups over a period of two years. The scheme was established in 2010 and a maximum of three awards will be made in 2014.  The objective of the scheme is to build capacity within the CCAMLR scientific community to help generate and sustain the scientific expertise needed to support the work of CCAMLR in the long term.  The deadline for CCAMLR applications is 1 October 2014.

Light-mantled Sooty Albatross chick, photograph by Aleks Terauds

For more information on SCAR and COMNAP Fellowships, visit the SCAR website or the COMNAP website.  For information on CCAMLR Scholarships, visit the CCAMLR website.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 01 March 2014

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