Albatrosses and petrels,
throughout all stages of their life history, are subject
to an array of human-caused threats that have the
potential to reduce their reproductive success and/or
survival. In combination, these factors are placing
the long-term viability of many species at risk. The
incidental catch (or bycatch) of seabirds during longline-
and trawl-fishing operations is considered the most
significant threat to albatrosses. The smaller petrels
are also threatened by introduced predators at many
breeding localities. Other threats include human disturbance
at the nest, chemical contamination, marine pollution
and over-exploitation of food resources.
Although individual nations are taking measures to
protect albatrosses and petrels, international cooperative
action is also required. Albatrosses and petrels are
susceptible to threats operating throughout their
range and it is unlikely that actions by one nation
alone will be effective in improving their global
conservation status. International cooperation on
albatross and petrel conservation thus enhances the
prospects for successful conservation measures across
their migratory ranges.
The Agreement ACAP, negotiated under the Convention
on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals
(CMS), was opened for signature in Canberra, Australia
on 19 June 2001. It entered into force on 1 February
2004. The Interim Secretariat is located in Hobart,
As a CMS Agreement, ACAP focuses on any species, subspecies
or population of the albatrosses and petrels listed
in Annex 1. It currently covers 19 species of albatrosses
and seven species of petrels of the avian order Procellariiformes.
The ACAP Agreement is not geographically restricted,
although up to now only species that breed in the
Southern Hemisphere have been listed in its Annex
1. However, ACAP’s Advisory Committee is considering
potential additions to the Annex, including the three
albatross species that breed in the northern hemisphere.
If these three species are included by ACAP’s
Meeting of Parties, then all the world’s albatrosses
will be listed in the Agreement.
As of January 2009, the membership of ACAP consists
of 13 Parties. An up-to-date list of the Agreement’s
Parties is found in its Agreement Summary Sheet. See
The Agreement aims to stop or reverse population declines
by coordinating action between Range States to mitigate
known threats to albatross and petrel populations.
To achieve this ACAP includes an Action Plan which
describes a number of conservation measures to be
implemented by Parties. Conservation measures to be
implemented include research and monitoring, reducing
incidental mortality in fisheries, eradicating non-native
species at breeding sites and reducing disturbances,
habitat loss and pollution.
The Agreement recognises that there are existing international
instruments that contain conservation measures relevant
to albatrosses and petrels, such as the Convention
for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources
and the FAO International Plan of Action for Reducing
Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries.
It also recognises the importance of building co-operative
and coordinated working relationships with these and
other organisations. For example, ACAP sees it can
play an important role within Regional Fishery Management
Organisations – by providing information on
the distribution of albatrosses and petrels and their
potential overlap with fishing effort, and by recommending
appropriate mitigation measures that may be adopted
to reduce seabird bycatch. In these ways, ACAP aims
to ensure that existing international efforts are
complemented and not duplicated.
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