An overlooked biosecurity concern: moving rodents between seabird islands by back-loading

John Cooper (Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology, Stellenbosch University) and colleagues write in Aliens the Invasive Species Bulletin (Newsletter of the IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group) on the risks of inadvertently moving rodents between seabird islands, including those with breeding populations of ACAP-listed albatrosses and petrels such as within the Prince Edward and Tristan da Cunha Island Groups.

The paper’s abstract follows

“Introduced House Mice Mus musculus were inadvertently back-loaded to a supply ship from mouse-infested Gough Island in the South Atlantic Ocean before the ship proceeded to place a party ashore on mouse-free Inaccessible Island.  It is recommended that cargo from rodent-infested islands, especially that containing waste materials, be routinely inspected and treated on shore with rodenticides before back-loading commences.  This is essential to reduce the risk of introducing rodents to departing vessels and then to rat- and mouse-free islands visited subsequently on the same voyages.”


Chief Steward Neville Genisson with the House Mouse caught aboard the S.A. Agulhas

Photograph: S.A. Agulhas


Cooper, J., Cuthbert. R.J. & Ryan, P.G. 2013.  An overlooked biosecurity concern?  Back-loading at islands supporting introduced rodents.  Aliens 33: 28-31.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 09 November 2013

The Agreement on the
Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

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.

About ACAP

ACAP Secretariat

119 Macquarie St
Hobart TAS 7000

Tel: +61 3 6165 6674