Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

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The Hawai‘i Wildlife Center rehabilitates albatrosses - and supports World Albatross Day

Hawaii Wildlife Center 

The Hawai‘i Wildlife Center (HWC), based on the ‘Big Island’ of Hawaii, is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting, conserving and aiding in the recovery of Hawai‘i’s native wildlife through hands-on treatment, research, training, science education and cultural programmes.  The HWC provides state-of-the-art care and rehabilitation to all species of native birds – including seabirds - and bats from throughout the Hawaiian Islands.  HWC started as a dream and desire to protect native animals and improve the available wildlife care and rehabilitation in Hawai‘i, especially since the islands contain one of the highest concentrations of threatened species anywhere in the world.  In addition to wildlife care, HWC provides professional wildlife rescue and response training throughout the Pacific region as well as undertaking public education and outreach programmes with local students and community members.

Linda Elliott 

Linda Elliott, President and Director of the Hawai‘i Wildlife Center

Linda Elliott, President and Director of the H awai‘i Wildlife Center, writes to ACAP Latest News: “We operate with a staff of five and an ‘ohana [family] of volunteers statewide.  The animals we work with have both a local cultural importance as well as a profound global significance.  Hawai‘i holds a great deal of the world’s biodiversity in its islands and it is our hope that the work we do and the stories we share will play a role in preventing the extinction of more native Hawaiian species."

She continues: "I have been lucky to have been able to work hands-on with albatrosses before starting the Hawai‘i Wildlife Center.  My first encounter was with the ‘ginormous’ colony of Laysan and Black-footed Albatrosses on Midway Atoll.  I was brought over by the then USFWS Refuge Manager, Robert Shallenberger, to undertake training in oiled wildlife response and was immediately blown away by the density, sounds and beauty of the island’s albatrosses.  I even had the opportunity to glimpse a rare Short-tailed Albatross while there.  A mystery spill-oiled Laysan Albatross showed up, allowing for a fortuitous opportunity to demonstrate rescuing and rehabilitating an albatross in a remote location."

 Linda Elliott washing laysan albatross

HWC Director Linda Elliott washes a Laysan Albatross Phoebastria immutabilis

 

A Laysan Albatross fledgling from a nearby island gets a check-up exam

 Linda Elliott Black footed Albatross

A Black-footed Albatross Phoebastria nigripes under care, photographs by the Hawai‘i Wildlife Center

"All of us at the Hawai‘i Wildlife Center are excited to be a part of the World Albatross Day celebration this week.  We have cared for both Mōlī (Laysan Albatross) and Kaʻupu (Black-footed Albatross) at our facility in Kapa‘au, Hawai‘i.  Some patients required care for natural causes while others had been impacted by human activities in some way.  We hope that by sharing stories of the struggles and triumphs of albatrosses we can inspire more people to rally around conservation efforts to save these amazing birds!”

With thanks to Linda Elliott, Director & Rae Okawa, Development Coordinator, H awai‘i Wildlife Center.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 13 June 2020

The Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition urges conservation actions on World Albatross Day

ASOC logo 

The Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC) was co-founded in 1978 by former Executive Director Jim Barnes as a collaborative effort by conservation organizations from around the world to defend the integrity of Antarctic and Southern Ocean ecosystems from encroaching human activities.  ASOC’s stated mission is to protect the Antarctic and Southern Ocean’s unique and vulnerable ecosystems by providing the unified voice of the NGO community.  It is positioned to do this because of its official observer status within the Antarctic Treaty regime, granted in 1991.  ASOC sends delegations which contribute to annual Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings (ATCMs) and to meetings of the Commission on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), where it presents a voice for protecting and preserving Antarctic species.

During the late 1990s and early 2000s, ASOC was deeply involved in efforts at CCAMLR to fight Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing for Patagonian Toothfish (known commercially as Chilean Sea Bass) and improve the regulation of legal fisheries in the Southern Ocean.  As part of these efforts, ASOC advocated for the introduction of mandatory seabird bycatch mitigation measures including adding weights to longlines, reducing use of lights during night fishing, implementing bird exclusion devices and bird-scaring lines and prohibiting the dumping of offal.  The introduction of these measures led to a sharp decrease in the thousands of incidental albatross and petrel mortalities that were occurring each year.  Today, compliance with the measures is consistent across licensed vessels and incidental mortality is near zero within the Southern Ocean, demonstrating that these measures are practical as well as effective.

ASOC works towards creating a network of marine reserves or marine protected areas (MPAs) in the Southern Ocean that will set aside areas representative of most major Antarctic marine habitats and ensuring a precautionary approach to the management of Southern Ocean fisheries.

Claire Christian

Claire Christian, ASOC Executive Director, with a passing penguin

ASOC’s Secretariat is located in Washington, DC, USA.  Claire Christian, ASOC Executive Director writes to ACAP Latest News: “ASOC was proud to play a role in reducing accidental bycatch of albatrosses and petrels in the Southern Ocean through the introduction of highly effective mitigation measures, but these magnificent birds are still under threat elsewhere.  On World Albatross Day, we urge Regional Fisheries Management Organizations and governments to implement simple but proven solutions to ensure that these species can thrive for generations to come.”

With thanks to Claire Christian, Executive Director, Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 13 June 2020

Pronatura, Mexico's BirdLife affiliate, offers its support for World Albatross Day

Pronatura Sur 

Pronatura México is the largest environmental conservation group in Mexico and is a national affiliate of BirdLife International.  Founded in 1981, the organization is a network of regional chapters covering 32 Mexican states. focused on promoting science-based conservation models that enable human progress and move towards environmental sustainability.  The regional chapters share Pronatura’s mission of the conservation of the flora, fauna and priority ecosystems of Mexico, and promoting society's development in harmony with nature.  Pronatura heads conservation projects and activities in 56 areas of importance for bird conservation (IBAs) in Mexico, as well as in other areas of conservation priority (click here).

Claudia Macías, Deputy Director of Conservation, Pronatura Sur writes to ACAP Latest News: “Pronatura, Mexico's BirdLife partner, offers its support for World Albatross Day on 19 June”.

 Claudia Macias

Claudia Macías, Deputy Director of Conservation, Pronatura Sur

Claudia Macías’ colleague, Eric Hernández Molina, Biodiversity and Landscape Monitoring Coordinator/Coordinador de Monitoreo de Biodiversidad y Paisajes, Pronatura Sur adds: “In Mexico, this wonderful group of birds mainly inhabits the Pacific Ocean and breeds on islands hundreds of kilometres from the coast.  They are birds little known by most people.  However, they are severely affected by the large amounts of solid and plastic materials that are discarded in the ocean, which can float for thousands of kilometres.  It is time to make a change from plastic to natural materials, decrease our consumption, recycle and promote appropriate public policies on the management of solid and liquid waste.  These are necessary actions to help recover populations of albatrosses and thousands of other species. worldwide.”

Eric Hernández Molina

 Eric Hernández Molina, Biodiversity and Landscape Monitoring Coordinator/Coordinador de Monitoreo de Biodiversidad y Paisajes, Pronatura Sur

Smithsonian plastic pollution

Plastics found in the stomach of an albatross, Museum Support Center, Smithsonian Institution, photograph by Eric Hernández Molina

“En México este maravilloso grupo de aves habita principalmente el océano pacífico y se reproduce en islas a cientos de kilómetros de las costas.  Son aves poco conocidas por la mayoría de la gente, sin embargo, son afectados severamente por las grandes cantidades de materiales plásticos y sólidos que son desechados en los océanos, los cuales pueden flotar por miles de kilómetros.  Taparroscas, cepillos de dientes, juguetes, frascos y otros objetos plásticos, son encontrados en los estómagos de las aves marinas.  Es tiempo de realizar un cambio de materias plásticas por materias naturales, disminuir nuestro consumo, reciclar e impulsar políticas públicas apropiadas sobre el manejo de desechos sólidos y líquidos, son acciones necesarias para ayudar a recuperar las poblaciones de los albatros y de otras miles de especies alrededor del mundo."

Although not a Party to ACAP, Mexico has attended Agreement meetings as a breeding range state.  Laysan Albatrosses Phoebastria immutabilis (Near Threatened) breed in small numbers on four Mexican islands, where another Mexican environmental NGO, Grupo de Ecología y Conservación de Islas, A.C. (GECI), has worked to conserve them by removing introduced pests.

 With thanks to Eric Hernández Molina and Claudia Macías Caballero, Pronatura Sur, Mexico.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 13 June 2020

The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds will celebrate the first World Albatross Day next week

SANCCOB logo round

The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) has been in existence for over 50 years and has treated almost 100 000 seabirds, mostly Endangered African Penguins, but also over 35 different species of other seabirds and coastal birds.

SANCCOB’s mission is to reverse the decline of seabird populations through the rescue, rehabilitation and release of ill, injured, abandoned and oiled seabirds.  SANCCOB is also active in protecting seabird colonies and works closely with its partners (including government, conservation authorities and like-minded NGOs) in advocating the protection of seabirds in the wild and securing food availability.

SANCCOB Shy Albatross

Nola Parsons bands a Shy Albatross at SANCCOB's Cape Town rescue centre in 2012, photograph by SANCCOB

SANCCOB mostly admits South African coastal species, such as African Penguins, Cape Gannets, gulls, terns and cormorants for rehabilitation.  But the excitement is great when we do admit an albatross species.  Unfortunately, they mostly come in very weak or with fisheries-related injuries.  Over the last 20 years, SANCCOB has admitted 22 albatrosses of six different species (Atlantic and Indian Yellow-nosed, Black-browed, Grey-headed, Shy and Sooty).  Most of these birds were released after a few days in care as albatrosses do not do well in rehabilitation and are much better off out in the wild.  SANCCOB is looking forward to celebrating the first World Albatross Day this month and wishes ACAP and all its partners a successful year ahead.

SANCCOB IYNA.X ray

Getting an Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross ready for an X-ray in 2019, photograph by David Roberts, SANCCOB

SANCCOB IYNA Bumblefoot 

An Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross with bandages to treat bumblefoot in 2019; the bird was successfully released back into the wild, photograph by Marzia Antonellil

Dr Katta Ludynia, Research Manager, SANCCOB, Cape Town, South Africa, 12 June 2020

The East Asian - Australasian Flyway Partnership Seabird Working Group writes in support of next week’s World Albatross Day

EAAFP Logo 

Adopted in the list of the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 as a Type II initiative which is informal and voluntary, the East Asian - Australasian Flyway Partnership was launched on 6 November 2006.  The Partnership aims to protect migratory waterbirds, their habitats and the livelihoods of people dependent upon them.  There are currently 37 Partners including 18 countries, six intergovernmental agencies, 11 international non-governmental organizations (iNGOs), one international organization and one international private enterprise.  The EAAFP developed the Flyway Site Network of international importance for the conservation of migratory waterbirds, in which 147 sites had joined the network as of 8 June 2020.  There are seven Working Groups and nine Task Forces to facilitate conservation work in the flyway.

The EAAFP Seabird Working Group (SWG) was established in 2007 to assist in the coordination of conservation activities across the flyway through promoting, facilitating, coordinating and harmonizing seabird conservation, education, and research activities.

Robb Kaler, Chair, EAAFP Seabird Working Group

Robert (Robb) Kaler, Chair of the SWG, writes to ACAP Latest News:

“The largest of seabirds, albatrosses are masters of gliding flight, sailing over the ocean for hours with no perceptible movement of their outstretched wings.  Behavioural and physiological adaptations allow albatrosses to forage at great distances from their nesting areas on isolated and remote islands.  Some albatross species were heavily hunted on their breeding islands for the feather trade during the early 1900s and populations were seriously reduced.  Albatross populations have bounced back but continue to be impacted by interactions with longline fisheries and exposure to marine pollution and plastics.  With support from international initiatives such as the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP), which encourages participants to join the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatross and Petrels (ACAP), we will ensure that future generations will have a chance to see these and the other amazing ocean wanderers which connect us and our oceans.”

Read more of EAAFP’s support for ‘WAD2020’ here.

With thanks to Vivian Fu, Communication Officer, East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership Secretariat.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 12 June 2020

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