Wanderers still doing badly


Wandering Albatrosses of South Georgia/Isla Georgia del Sur: continued cause for concern

Writing in the October 2007 issue of Forum News (Newsletter of the United Kingdom Overseas Territories Conservation Forum), Sally Poncet reports* that only an estimated 802 Wandering Albatross pairs laid eggs on Bird Island, South Georgia/Isla Georgia del Sur in January this year.  This is a decline of 49 pairs since 2006, and 125 less than in 2005.  A similar trend has been recorded in the Bay of Isles region on the main island.  The Bird Island population of Wandering Albatross has almost halved since the early 1970s when longline fishing commenced on a large scale in the Southern Ocean.


Over half the chicks on Bird Island have been shown by British Antarctic Survey personnel to have ingested longline fishing hooks fed to them by their parents, confirming that interactions with this type of fishery is the most likely cause for the continuing population decline.


Although CCAMLR (Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources) requires hooks to be removed from fish heads before discarding, this is apparently not the case farther north but still within the foraging range of the Wandering Albatross.  Perhaps a study of the swallowed hooks on Bird Island may allow them to be identified to specific fisheries, so that the miscreants can be challenged to match the successes achieved in reducing albatross mortality to almost zero in the more southerly fisheries within the CCAMLR region.


*Poncet, S. 2007. The South Georgia Wandering Albatross. Forum News 31: 5; www.ukotcf.org



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The Agreement on the
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ACAP is a multilateral agreement which seeks to conserve listed albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters by coordinating international activity to mitigate known threats to their populations.

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