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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Reducing seabird bycatch in the South African hake trawl fleet with funds from the Marine Stewardship Council

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BirdLife South Africa takes its 'WAD2020' banner to sea on a trawler, photograph by Reason Nyengera

The Marine Stewardship Council has granted BirdLife South Africa a two-year research grant of UK£ 50 000 from its Oceans Stewardship Fund to reduce seabird mortality in the country’s small inshore trawlers fishing for hake Merluccius sp.  The fund aims to accelerate progress in sustainable fishing.

The research project “aims to develop bespoke bird mitigation plans.  Accidental bycatch of threatened seabirds is a problem for many fisheries.  Bird-scaring Lines (BSLs) act as an effective deterrent in the offshore trawl fisheries in the South African Hake Trawl Fleet.  The inshore fishery however, lacks the structural operational features to prevent birds colliding with nets in the same way.  The project will use bird barriers, new BSLs, structural alterations, changes to offal management and the installation of electronic monitoring devices to monitor bird bycatch.”

Andrea Angel of BirdLife South Africa’s Seabird Conservation Programme and Albatross Task Force – South Africa Leader commented “we had seen the need for this research to take place for a long time, but due to lack of funding and a direct way to benefit the fishing fleet, getting support had not been possible until funding from the MSC became available.”

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Read more here.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 07 May 2020

UPDATED Aves Argentinas and its Albatross Task Force work to support World Albatross Day in the face of COVID-19

Texto en español más abajo


Lockdown!  Nahuel Chavez deploys Albatross Task Force – Argentina’s World Albatross Day banner at his home – instead of at sea

Aves Argentinas / Asociación Ornitológica del Plata is the national partner of BirdLife International in Argentina.  Founded in 1916 with a staff of 40 people and more than 3000 members, its mission is given as “the conservation of wild birds and their habitats”.  Its vision is “to increase awareness about the importance of biodiversity conservation through advocacy, education, publicity and research, with special attention to birds which, as environmental indicators, help to improve our quality of life”.  All conservation projects incorporate strong emphasis on relationships with local people.

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Albatross and petrels approach a fishing vessel in Argentine waters

Aves Argentinas

Aves Argentinas hosts one of five national teams of BirdLife International’s Albatross Task Force (ATF-Argentina), with a staff of three people led by Leandro Tamini, who is also the NGO’s Marine Programme Coordinator.  Leo has written to ACAP Latest News describing the work he leads conserving albatrosses and petrels and offering the support of Aves Argentinas and his ATF Team for the inaugural World Albatross Day on 19 June.

“From Argentina the Albatross Task Force team joins forces with other Parties to the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels, in order to contribute to the conservation of these species, which face a global conservation crisis.  We continue to focus on reducing incidental capture of seabirds by Argentinean fisheries, helping to implement mitigation measures such as bird-scaring lines (BSLs) in longline and trawl.  The use of BSLs has been mandatory in our country since 2008 in longline fisheries and from 2018 for trawling.

ATF is the first international team of experts dedicated to reducing bycatch to save albatrosses and petrels by working on board vessels and promoting the use of mitigation measures in fisheries.  To achieve these goals we continue to work with fishers, fishing companies and government agencies to raise awareness of the importance of conserving these fascinating species.

A few days ago, the ATF Argentina team celebrated its first 12 years of activity without a break.  Throughout 2019 we worked in various ways to continue demonstrating the effectiveness of mitigation measures, such as the deployment of BSLs and the Tabla Tamini (Tamini Table, see feature photo above), a device designed to stop BSLs becoming entangled during strong winds (see example in feature photo above).  We collaborated so the Argentinian freezer trawler fleet complies with the regulation that established mandatory use of bird-scaring lines.  In addition to the on-board working of instructors, we have carried out other tasks, such as periodic visits to ports to deliver BSLs and awareness materials.


Repairing a bird-scaring line aboard a fishing vessel

We also continue to develop activities aimed at various educational levels, ranging from primary to tertiary and contribute to the training of future captains and officers graduating from the National School of Fisheries.

The whole world is currently being forced to live through the COVID-19 pandemic, a situation that affects the daily lives of millions of people; to this Argentina is no exception, where we have been complying with a mandatory lockdown imposed by the National Government.  Due to this situation our usual activities have been affected, because the ships are not operating as normal and classes have not yet started for the year.  However, the work of ATF-Argentina is continuing from our homes; we continue to be in permanent contact with the ships and their crews through social networks to pass on updated information on the use of BSLs and to respond to queries or technical difficulties that arise.  In addition, we are participating in a cycle of online informative talks organized by Aves Argentinas, in which we have had the opportunity to present our ATF work to the general public, as well as to talk about the life stories of albatrosses and petrels.

ATF-Argentina will continue its work, despite the complex circumstances that we are having to go through.  Not being able to take it out to sea, we have deployed our World Albatross Day banner from our homes.  Come 19 June we will join others in marking a special day to celebrate these incredible birds and raise awareness among the population about the conservation crisis they are facing, as well as the importance of protecting them.  We hope that soon the global health situation will show improvements and more and more people can finally understand that we are just one of the species on our planet and that we must live in balance with all the others.”

With thanks to Ángeles Sebastiano, Comunicación, Aves Argentinas and Nahuel Chavez, ATF-Argentina for the photographs.

Leandro Tamini, Aves Argentinas & Albatross Task Force - Argentina, with John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 06 May 2020


Aves Argentinas y su Albatross Task Force trabajan para apoyar el Día Mundial de los Albatros de cara al COVID-19


¡Cuarentena!  Nahuel Chavez despliega la bandera del Dia Mundial de los Albatros del Albatross Task Force – Argentina en su casa en lugar de en el mar

Aves Argentinas / Asociación Ornitológica del Plata es el socio nacional de BirdLife International en Argentina.  Fundada en 1916, con un plantel de alrededor de 40 personas y más de 3000 socios, tiene como misión la conservación de las aves silvestres y sus hábitats.  Su visión es aumentar la conciencia sobre la importancia de la conservación de la biodiversidad a través de la defensa, la educación, la divulgación y la investigación, con especial atención a las aves que, como indicadores ambientales, ayudan a mejorar nuestra calidad de vida. Todos los proyectos de conservación tienen un fuerte énfasis en la relación con la gente local.

Aves Argentinas

Aves Argentinas es la sede de uno de los cinco equipos nacionales del Albatross Task Force de BirdLife International que está formado por tres personas con la coordinación de Leandro Tamini, quien también es el Coordinador del Programa Marino de la institución. Leo ha escrito el ACAP Latest News describiendo el trabajo que lidera, conservando a los albatros y los petreles y ofreciendo el apoyo de Aves Argentinas y su equipo ATF para el primer Día Mundial de los Albatros, el próximo 19 de junio.

Desde Argentina, el Equipo Albatros Task Force se une a las demás Partes del Acuerdo sobre la Conservación de Albatros y Petreles, para contribuir con la conservación de esas especies que enfrentan una crisis de conservación global.  Continuamos enfocándonos en reducir la captura incidental de aves marinas por parte de las pesquerías argentinas, ayudando a implementar medidas de mitigación tales como líneas espantapájaros (LEP) en palangre y arrastre. El uso de las LEP es obligatorio en nuestro país desde 2008 en la pesca con palangre y desde 2018 para la pesca de arrastre.

Buque arrastrero congelador durante las tareas de pesca

ATF es el primer equipo internacional de expertos dedicado a reducir la captura incidental para salvar albatros y petreles trabajando a bordo de buques y promoviendo el uso de medidas de mitigación en la pesca. Para lograr estos objetivos, continuamos trabajando con tripulantes, compañías pesqueras y agencias gubernamentales para crear conciencia sobre la importancia de conservar estas fascinantes especies.

Albatros y petreles se aproximan a un buque pesquero en aguas argentinas

Hace unos días, el equipo de ATF Argentina celebró sus primeros 12 años de actividad sin descanso. A lo largo de 2019, trabajamos de varias maneras para continuar demostrando la efectividad de las medidas de mitigación, como el despliegue de las LEP y la Tabla Tamini, un dispositivo diseñado para evitar que las LEP se enreden durante los fuertes vientos (ver ejemplo en la foto de arriba). Colaboramos para que la flota de arrastreros congeladores argentinos puedan cumplir con la regulación que estableció el uso obligatorio de las líneas espantapájaros. Además del trabajo a bordo de los instructores, hemos llevado a cabo otras tareas, como visitas periódicas a los puertos para entregar líneas espantapájaros y materiales de sensibilización.

También continuamos desarrollando actividades dirigidas a varios niveles educativos, desde la educación primaria hasta la terciaria, y contribuimos a la capacitación de futuros capitanes y oficiales que se gradúen de la Escuela Nacional de Pesca.

Reparando una línea espantapájaros a bordo de un buque pesquero

Actualmente, todo el mundo se ve obligado a vivir la pandemia de COVID-19, una situación que afecta la vida cotidiana de millones de personas. Argentina no es la excepción donde hemos estado cumpliendo con una cuarentena obligatoria impuesta por el Gobierno Nacional. Debido a esta situación, nuestras actividades habituales se han visto afectadas, porque los barcos no están operando normalmente y las clases aún no han comenzado durante el año. Sin embargo, el trabajo de ATF Argentina continúa desde nuestros hogares; seguimos en contacto permanente con los barcos y sus tripulaciones a través de las redes sociales para transmitir información actualizada sobre el uso de las LEP y responder a consultas o dificultades técnicas que surjan. Además, participamos en un ciclo de charlas informativas en línea organizadas por Aves Argentinas, en las que hemos tenido la oportunidad de presentar nuestro trabajo de ATF al público en general, así como de hablar sobre las historias de vida de albatros y petreles.

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ATF Argentina continuará su trabajo, a pesar de las complejas circunstancias por las que estamos pasando. Al no poder llevarla al mar, hemos desplegado nuestra bandera del Día Mundial de los Albatros desde nuestros hogares. El 19 de junio nos uniremos para celebrar un día especial dedicado a estas increíbles aves y crear conciencia entre la población sobre la crisis de conservación que enfrentan, así como la importancia de protegerlas. Esperamos que pronto la situación de salud global muestre mejoras y que cada vez más personas puedan finalmente entender que somos solo una de las especies en nuestro planeta y que debemos vivir en equilibrio con todas los demás.

Agradecemos a Ángeles Sebastiano, Comunicación, Aves Argentinas y Nahuel Chavez, ATF Argentina por las fotografías.

Leandro Tamini, Aves Argentinas y Albatross Task Force - Argentina, con John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 07 de mayo de 2020


Wildlife Management International works to conserve ACAP-listed Black Petrels and Chatham Albatrosses – and supports World Albatross Day

Wildlife Management International 

New Zealand-based Wildlife Management International Limited (WMIL) is an environmental consultancy dedicated to research and nature conservation.  It has been monitoring, protecting and managing natural ecosystems both in New Zealand and around the world for over 30 years.  Founded in 1992 by the late Brian Bell QSM, the consultancy remains a family business, now headed by Brian’s offspring, Mike Bell (Managing Director) and Elizabeth (Biz) Bell (Senior Ecologist).

ACAP Latest News reached out to Biz and Mike to hear more about their conservation work with two ACAP-listed species, both endemic to New Zealand: the globally Vulnerable Chatham Albatross Thalassarche eremita and the globally Vulnerable Black Petrel Procellaria parkinsoni – and to gain the WMIL’s support for this year’s inaugural World Albatross Day on 19 June.

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Biz Bell (right) bands a Black Petrel, photograph by Wildlife Management International

Mike and Biz have written in reply: “Every year, our team of passionate ecologists spend months on islands monitoring ACAP-listed species such as Chatham Albatross and Black Petrel, as well as Flesh-footed Shearwater and other seabirds.  The Takoketai/Black Petrel project that WMIL has been undertaking for Ngati Rehua, Department of Conservation and Ministry for Primary Industries since 1995 is one of the longest-running seabird projects in New Zealand.  Along with the Chatham Island Taiko Trust, the Chatham Albatross translocation project was ground-breaking as the first albatross transfer in New Zealand and the second in the world.  Having directed over 20 invasive species eradications on islands around the world to protect and enhance seabird, land bird and reptile populations, WMIL recognises that World Albatross Day is a fantastic way to raise the profile of these iconic species and the importance of protecting their homes by eradicating island pests.”

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Mike Bell (right) helps feed a translocated Chatham Albatross chick a large squid, photograph by Wildlife Management International

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Mike Bell holds a White-capped Abatross Thalassarche steadi for banding on Motuhara, photograph by Mark Fraser

With thanks to Biz and Mike Bell, Wildlife Management International.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 04 May 2020

Lead levels show historical declines in Flesh-footed Shearwaters

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Alex Bond (Natural History Museum, Tring, UK) and Jenn Lavers have assessed historical changes in cadmium, mercury, and lead levels in feathers of  Flesh-footed Shearwaters Ardenna carneipes, a potential candidate for ACAP listing, in the journal Environmental Pollution.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Contamination of diverse environments and wild species by some contaminants is projected to continue and increase in coming decades. In the marine environment, large volumes of data to assess how concentrations have changed over time can be gathered from indicator species such as seabirds, including through sampling feathers from archival collections and museums. As apex predators, Flesh-footed Shearwaters (Ardenna carneipes) are subject to high concentrations of bioaccumulative and biomagnifying contaminants, and reflect the health of their local marine environment. We analysed Flesh-footed Shearwater feathers from Australia from museum specimens and live birds collected between 1900 and 2011 and assessed temporal trends in three trace elements of toxicological concern: cadmium, mercury, and lead. Concentrations of cadmium increased by 1.5% per year (95% CI: +0.6, +3.0), while mercury was unchanged through the time series (−0.3% per year; 05% CI: -2.1, +1.5), and lead decreased markedly (−2.1% per year, 95% CI: -3.2, −1.0). A reduction in birds’ trophic position through the 20th century, and decreased atmospheric emissions were the likely driving factors for mercury and lead, respectively. By combining archival material from museum specimens with contemporary samples, we have been able to further elucidate the potential threats posed to these apex predators by metal contamination.”

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Flesh-footed Shearwater at sea, photograph by Kirk Zufelt

Bond, A.L. & Lavers, J.L. 2020. Biological archives reveal contrasting patterns in trace element concentrations in pelagic seabird feathers over more than a century. Environmental Pollution

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 03 May 2020

The Hawaii Audubon Society joins other Hawaiian NGOs in supporting World Albatross Day

Hawaii Audubon Society

A number of environmental NGOs based in the USA’s Hawaiian Islands actively work towards improving the conservation status of the islands’ breeding Black-footed Phoebastria nigripes and Laysan P. immutabilis Albatrosses.  Two of these, Friends of Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge (FoHI) and Friends of Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge (FOMA) direct their conservation efforts to the North-western Hawaiian Islands, where the vast majority of the Hawaiian albatrosses breed.  Both FoHI and FOMA have offered their support to the inaugural World Albatross Day on 19 June this year.

ACAP Latest News reached out to Wendy Johnson, Executive Director of the Hawaii Audubon Society (HAS) to gain her NGO’s support for World Albatross Day 2020.  Established in 1939, the Hawaii Audubon Society is a non-profit membership organization that fosters community values to protect and restore native wildlife and ecosystems and conserve natural resources through education, science and advocacy in Hawaii and the Pacific.  The society publishes a journal, ‘Elepaio, six times a year containing peer-reviewed scientific articles and updates on environmental issues.  From 2007 the Hawaii Audubon Society has actively managed the small Freeman Seabird Preserve on Oahu, home to a growing breeding colony of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters or 'uau kani Ardenna pacifica.

Wendy Johnson requested HAS Board Member Susan Scott to respond with the NGO’s support for WAD2020.  Susan Scott has written to ACAP Latest News on behalf of HAS: “Hawaii’s albatross populations have suffered staggering losses over the centuries, yet our three Northern Hemisphere species continue to nest in the Hawaiian Archipelago.  World Albatross Day is a fine way to share with the world the marvel of these magnificent birds’ continued survival.”

Susan continues “I work as a volunteer for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, most recently counting Laysan and Black-footed Albatrosses at Midway Atoll.  The count ending in January 2020 shows the two species numbering within their normal ranges”.

View "The Miracle of Midway: a Million Albatrosses and Counting" - an illustrated lecture by Susan Scott on behalf of the Hawaiian Audubon Society.

Susan Scott with a trusting Laysan Albatross on Midway Atoll

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The 2019/20 season all-volunteer albatross count team on Midway Atoll’s Eastern Island. Artist Caren Loebel-Fried holds the World Albatross Day sign she made  for ACAP Latest News

Cigarette lighters from Midways albatross nests Susan Scott shrunk

Susan Scott describes her own artwork as “made from cigarette lighters collected by Laysan Albatrosses at sea and regurgitated by their chicks.

The piece now hangs at the University of Hawaii’s East-West Center dormitory housing international students”

With thanks to Wendy Johnson and Susan Scott, Hawaii Audubon Society.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 02 May 2020