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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New Zealand’s new resource for seabird mitigation measures is now on line

New Zealand’s Department of Conservation has released an on-line resource for mitigation measures for seabirds that are specific to surface and bottom longline, trawl, net and recreational fisheries.  Individual mitigation techniques for seabirds (e.g. deployment of bird-scaring lines; bird bafflers, discard management, sink rates, night setting, avoiding ‘ghost fishing’ from lost or discarded nets and lines, etc.) are described by short video clips with spoken commentaries.  More information is given in downloadable “circulars” that give specifications for bird-scaring lines and details for the other mitigation methods.

Also included in the new resource are Protected Species Identification Guides, including for seabirds, and a guide detailing best- practice methods for handling and treatment of protected species.  The latter document is available in a total of six languages spoken by important fishing nations.


A baffler in use keeping albatross at bay

With thanks to Graham Parker.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 26 October 2019

BirdLife South Africa to celebrate World Albatross Day and its “Eradicating Island Pests” theme in 2020

BirdLife South Africa is a 5000-member environmental NGO that is the country’s partner of BirdLife International.  Its mission is to strive to conserve birds, their habitats and biodiversity through scientifically-based programmes, through supporting the sustainable and equitable use of natural resources and by encouraging people to enjoy and value nature.

Residing within BirdLife South Africa’s structure is its Seabird Conservation Programme with a Cape Town-based team of six led by Alistair McInnes.  Its work includes preventing bycatch of seabirds in fisheries via its involvement with BirdLife International’s Albatross Task Force (led by Andrea Angel), protecting endangered coastal seabirds (notably the globally Endangered African Penguin Spheniscus demersus), and the Marion Island mouse eradication project.

Scalped! A Grey-headed Albatross chick on Marion Island will not survive the overnight attacks by mice, photograph from the FitzPatrick Institute

Mice were inadvertently introduced to Marion Island during the 1900s, and have since wreaked havoc on the island’s ecosystem (click here).  BirdLife South Africa is supporting the South African Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) to launch an island restoration project, which will aim to rid the island of mice.  To this end the NGO operates a “Mouse Free Marion” website that is collecting funds via a “sponsor a hectare” campaign.

BirdLife South Africa’s Chief Executive Officer, Mark Anderson writes to ACAP Latest News in support of World Albatross Day: “Sixteen species of albatrosses occur in South Africa’s waters, all of which are listed in the regional and global Red Data Lists.  BirdLife South Africa and its Albatross Task Force have contributed towards their survival by reducing albatross mortalities in the trawl fishery by 99%, from an estimated 9000 to less than 100 killed a year.  As we prepare to celebrate World Albatross Day on 19 June 2020 (with the theme “Eliminating Island Pests”), we are committing to the restoration of Marion Island and the conservation of four iconic albatross species which breed on this sub-Antarctic island, including one fifth of the global population of Wandering Albatrosses that breed there.”

Mark Anderson, CEO, BirdLife South Africa

With thanks to Mark Anderson, Andrea Angel and Alistair McInnes.

Selected References:

Dilley, B.J., Schoombie, S., Schoombie, J. & Ryan, P.G. 2015.  ‘Scalping’ of albatross fledglings by introduced mice spreads rapidly at Marion Island.  Antarctic Science 28: 73-80.

Jones, M.G.W. & Ryan, P.G. 2010.  Evidence of mouse attacks on albatross chicks on sub-Antarctic Marion Island.  Antarctic Science 22: 39-42.

Maree, B.A., Wanless, R.M., Fairweather, T.P., Sullivan, B.J. & Yates, O. 2014.  Significant reductions in mortality of threatened seabirds in a South African trawl fishery.  Animal Conservation 17: 520-529.

Parkes, J. 2014.  Eradication of House Mice Mus musculus from Marion Island: a Review of Feasibility, Constraints and Risks.  In: Wanless, R.M. (Ed.).  BirdLife South Africa Occasional Report Series No. 1.  Johannesburg: BirdLife South Africa.  27 pp.

Preston, G.R., B.J. Dilley, J. Cooper, J. Beaumont, L.F. Chauke, S. L. Chown, N. Devanunthan, M. Dopolo, L. Fikizolo, J. Heine, S. Henderson, C.A. Jacobs, F. Johnson, J. Kelly, A.B. Makhado, C. Marais, J. Maroga, M. Mayekiso, G. McClelland, J. Mphepya, D. Muir, N. Ngcaba, N. Ngcobo, J.P. Parkes, F. Paulsen, S. Schoombie, K. Springer, C. Stringer, H. Valentine, R.M. Wanless & P.G. Ryan 2019. South Africa works towards eradicating introduced house mice from sub-Antarctic Marion Island: the largest island yet attempted for mice.  pp. 40-46.  In: Veitch, C.R., Clout, M.N., Martin, A.R., Russell, J.C. & West, C.J. (Eds).  Island Invasives: Scaling up to meet the Challenge.  Gland, Switzerland: IUCN.  xiv + 734 pp.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 25 October 2019

The 47th Annual Meeting of the Pacific Seabird Group in February 2020 opens for business

The 47th Annual Meeting of the Pacific Seabird Group will be held at the Hilton Portland Downtown in Portland, Oregon, USA over 12-15 February 2020.  The meeting’s theme is “Seabirds: Connecting Land and Sea”; the scientific programme “will be jam packed with cutting edge technology and research that pushes the boundaries”.


Registration, abstract submission, and travel award applications for the 2020 Annual Meeting are now open; deadline for abstracts is 2 December 2019 (click here).

Click here to view the Special Paper Sessions, Symposia, Workshops and Hot Topic Discussions

“Portland has a lot to offer. This year’s field trips will offer you a chance to see Oregon, mountains to coast. We’re planning locally-inspired food and entertainment at the welcome reception and closing ceremony, and plenty of opportunities to network with colleagues who plan to attend from over a dozen countries.”

With thanks to Rob Suryan, Scientific Program Chair.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 24 October, 2019

Qual Albatroz! World Albatross Day cartoons are now available in all three ACAP languages

Marc Parchow Figueiredo, a cartoonist residing in Portugal, has previously drawn special cartoons featuring his iconic Qual Albatroz birds to mark ACAP events (click here).  At ACAP’s request he has also produced a three-panel series to mark next year’s inauguration of World Albatross Day (click here for the English version).

Versions of Marc’s ‘WAD cartoons’ are now available in French (translated by Maëlle Connan) and Spanish (translated by Verónica López) as shown below.




International Cat Day referred to in the cartoons falls on 8 August (click here).

Currently, ACAP’s work to raise awareness of World Albatross Day is undertaken on a zero budget.  Thanks then to the Antarctic Legacy of South Africa for donating a coffee-table book on the sub-Antarctic Prince Edward Islands to send to Marc as a small token of his valued contributions to the conservation of albatrosses, which include sending signed prints of the original WAD cartoons with English text to ACAP.

March Parchow, wearing a Qual Albatroz T-shirt, holds up the Marion and Prince Edward Islands book

Marc has also produced his WAD cartoons in his home language of Portuguese.  Although not an official ACAP language - as are French and Spanish - it is the one spoken in Brazil, which has been an active Party to ACAP since December 2008.  Additionally, Portugal is a range state for the ACAP-listed and Critically Endangered Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus, as birds on migration enter Portuguese waters - where they have been reported being killed by both purse seines and set nets (click here).

With thanks to Maëlle Connan, Marc Parchow Figueiredo and Verónica López.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 22 October 2019

Resource partitioning by seabirds on sub-Antarctic Marion Island

Maëlle Connan (Institute for Coastal and Marine Research, Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa) and colleagues have written open access in the journal Ecography on what isotope ratios in eggshells can tell us about resource partitioning.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“A central theme in community ecology is understanding how similar species co-exist and how their interactions may evolve in the context of climate change. Most studies of resource partitioning among central place foragers, particularly birds, focus on the offspring-rearing period, when they are accessible, but breeding success may be determined earlier and little is known about how such species partition resources at the onset of breeding. We used a non-invasive approach to evaluate resource partitioning in co-existing females at a sub-Antarctic island during their pre-laying periods. Three hypotheses were tested using carbon, nitrogen and oxygen stable isotope ratios measured in shells and membranes of hatched eggs as ecological tracers: 1) resource partitioning by geographic location and trophic level will exist among the 12 bird species and will be enhanced within taxonomic groups; 2) given the absence of strong oxygen gradients in the Southern Ocean we will not detect spatial structuring based on oxygen isotopes, but differences will exist between resident and oceanic species as the former may use meteoric water; 3) capital and income breeder strategies can be differentiated using stable isotopes of egg remains.

Two and three dimensional isotopic data showed resource partitioning among species. As predicted, segregation was evident within the four main taxonomic groups: penguins, albatrosses, burrowing petrels and giant petrels. Unexpectedly, oxygen isotopes revealed widespread use of meteoric water among a suite of sub-Antarctic birds. Stable isotopes allowed us to identify females of most species as income breeders at the onset of breeding, with the exception of the females of the two crested penguin exhibiting a mix of income and capital resources use. Multidimensional isotopic analyses revealed that resource partitioning exists at multiple stages of the annual cycle in ways likely to be important under global change, exhibiting wide potential for ecosystem analysis.”


Wandering Albatrosses on Marion Island, photograph by Marienne de Villiers


Connan, M., Dilley, B.J., Whitehead, T.O., Davies, D., McQuaid, C.D. & Ryan, P.G. 2019. 2019.  Multidimensional stable isotope analysis illuminates resource partitioning in a sub-Antarctic island bird community.  Ecography 42: 1-12.  doi: 10.1111/ecog.04560.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 21 October 2019

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