Bycatch in Seabirds
The meeting of the Seabirds Bycatch Working Group of the
Agreement of Albatrosses and Petrels took place in Guayaquil
(Ecuador) the 22-24 August and was chaired by Barry Baker,
CMS Appointed Scientific Councillor for bycatch. The group
assessed the global impact of bycatch of seabirds in longline
fisheries and reviewed a number of research papers on mitigation
Between 160,000 and 320,000 seabirds are killed every year.
Most of them are albatross and petrel species listed on
Annex 1 of the Agreement. Compared with data collected in
the 1990’s, there is evidence of substantially reduced
bycatch in some key fisheries. Decreased fishing efforts
as well as greater and more effective use of technical mitigation
measures, notably in demersal and pelagic longline fisheries
are a major reason.
The Working Group concluded that the three best practice
mitigation methods are night setting, branch line weighting
and bird scaring lines. Combining these methods would be
the best way to reduce bycatch. Delineating areas of high
concentrations of albatrosses and petrels with a high death
toll in pelagic longline fisheries and where the most rigorous
seabird bycatch mitigation should be required.
In this context, the CMS representative highlighted the
Secretariat’s comprehensive review on the impact of
gillnets on marine mammals, sea turtles, sharks and seabirds.
The results will be presented at the CMS COP in November
2011 in Norway.
Considering the huge scale of South American fisheries
counting 6,000 motorized vessels in Brazil, some 15,000
in Chile, more than 15,000 in Ecuador and 10,000 in Peru,
artisanal fisheries was considered as a serious threat.
Even very low mortality rates can have serious detrimental
effects on species such as the Critically Endangered Waved
Albatross. Socio-economic factors and the development of
alternative mitigation methods need to be taken into considered
to address this threat
Breeding Sites, Status and Trends
The working groups on Breeding Sites and Status and Trends
met on 25-26 August to review the most recent information
on population status and trends that has been made available
to ACAP by the Parties.
At present, there are 248 islands where populations of
ACAP species breed. 571 populations of the listed 29 ACAP
species with 2.95 million pairs breed on 141 “island
groups” every year. The rarest of the ACAP species
remains the Critically Endangered Amsterdam albatross with
32 pairs only whilst the most abundant is the Vulnerable
White-chinned Petrel with 1 million pairs.
BirdLife International will review the status of all ACAP
species in 2012. It will work with ACAP to towards using
the up-to-date data to re-assess populations. As a result,
information provided to the MoP in 2012 shall be broadly
consistent with the BLI assessment for the IUCN Red List
later in the year.
The joint Working Groups expressed concern for species
with a dramatic decline in global populations, especially
the Tristan and Antipodean Albatrosses for which over 90%
of the global populations are in decline. More than 50 percent
of the populations of Wandering Albatross and Black-browed
Albatrosses are also in decline.
However, there a positive trend has been recorded for other
species: Seven ACAP species with at least 50 percent of
global populations are increasing in numbers. These include
the three North Pacific albatrosses, the Amsterdam, Shy,
and Southern Giant Petrels, most of which are now recovering
from major historical reductions in population size.
Habitat destruction and predation by introduced mammals
are major threats to breeding sites of ACAP species. Predation
by feral cats, black and brown rats, and habitat destruction
by reindeer affecting the breeding sites are most serious.
The Burrow-nesting grey Petrel and White-chinned Petrel
were mainly concerned.
After acute septicaemia emerged in 2010 killing 1000 adult
Black-browed Albatrosses call for more research into infectious
diseases of albatrosses and petrels.
ACAP members from Argentina, Australia, Chile, Ecuador,
France, New Zealand, South Africa, Uruguay and the UK, plus
BirdLife International and observers from a wide range of
government and non government agencies attended the working
Last updated on 16 June 2014