New Report Spells Out How UK Can Save Its Albatrosses
A newly published report calls for urgent action to prevent further
declines in the fast dwindling populations of albatrosses and petrels
in the South Atlantic - for which the UK has a leading responsibility.
One third of the world’s albatrosses nest on three of its Overseas
Territories (The Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Tristan da Cunha),
but numbers in this region are dwindling faster than anywhere else.
Steeple Jason has a massive colony of 150,000 breeding pairs of
Black-browed Albatross which stretches along 2 1/2 miles of coast.
Surveys show a population decline of 85,000 in the Falklands
Black-browed Albatross numbers since 1995. The paint, which lasts 3-4
months, will be used to help monitor the birds. It is a totally
harmless yet effective way of tracking and will aid in the search as to
why there is such a decline.
An international workshop organised by Falklands Conservation, held in
the Falkland Islands earlier this year, brought together 35 experts and
key players to discuss what steps and resources are necessary to
implement an effective rescue plan.
Decision makers, particularly in the UK and Overseas Territory
Governments, are now being presented with a list of tasks to address to
save albatrosses on UK Territories. These prioritise action for
conservation on land and at sea, research needs, inter-territory
relationships, and multilateral co-operation between nations and
organisations to implement effective fishery mitigation measures -
commercial fishing is the single most damaging influence on these
With the right action, impact can be minimised. The report provides a
model for all key areas of the world to emulate in their efforts to
Altogether 118 recommendations are included in the detailed and
authoritative report. Of particular importance are:
More effective engagement by the EC and UK (on behalf of its Overseas
Territories) in Regional Fishery Management Organisations. These
Organisations have the potential to regulate the environmental impact
of fisheries including for seabird interactions.
Appointment of a dedicated person in UK to represent Overseas
Territories on ACAP and fisheries issues, particularly the
Establishment of an effective fishery protection regime for the Tristan
da Cunha group.
Protection to be given for breeding sites, including extension to
adjacent marine areas, via appropriately managed Marine Protected Areas.
Improved biosecurity measures to prevent introduction of pests and
diseases including within island groups.
Programmes implemented to eradicate rodents from breeding sites.
Regular monitoring to be undertaken of population trends for all
species at risk.
Investigation of the potential for extension of EU Birds and Habitats
Directive to UK OTs.
An agreed resource-based action plan, incorporating all the
recommendations, is now needed to ensure that the UK and its Overseas
Territories meet their obligations to protect albatrosses and petrels.
There are major issues to address not least the costs, which are far
beyond the very limited resources of these small countries.
Alistair Gammell, director of the RSPB's International Division, said:
"The level of support shown by the UK Government to this Report will be
a clear indication of its commitment to protecting the exceptional
biodiversity of its Overseas Territories and, in this case, arguably
their most spectacular and iconic inhabitants.
"Will the UK Government let albatrosses become extinct, or will it take
action necessary to give them a future?"
Download the Report -
Albatross and Petrels in the South Atlantic: Conservation Priorities
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