Emu Emu Society
Journal of BirdLife Australia

Albatrosses and petrels in Australia: a review of their conservation and management

G. Barry Baker, Rosemary Gales, Sheryl Hamilton and Victoria Wilkinson

Emu 102(1) 71 - 97
Published: 23 April 2002


Significant declines in many of the world's albatross and petrel populations, linked to the high mortality of birds as bycatch in fishing operations, have elevated their plight to the top of the international marine conservation agenda. We review available information on Australia's Procellariiformes, with respect to their conservation biology and management in the region. Procellariiformes face a range of threats in the marine environment and on land. At sea, threatening factors include direct interactions with fishing operations; ingestion of, and entanglement in, marine debris; contamination from pollutants; and over–fishing of prey species. At breeding colonies, increased mortality and decreased breeding success due to predation by feral pests; degradation of nesting habitat by introduced herbivores; interspecific competition for nest space; and transmission of parasites and disease occurs. Of these threats, increased mortality resulting from interactions with fishing operations and predation by feral pests are particularly important. The first mainly affects larger species (body mass >600 g), whereas the second predominantly affects smaller species (body mass <600 g). This results because the larger species are able to swallow baited hooks and habitually follow ships, whereas smaller species have difficulty swallowing baited hooks but are vulnerable to predation by virtue of their size. Ensuring the long–term survival of Australia's albatross and petrel populations depends on domestic research and conservation management programs, combined with international action that will secure the protection of these seabirds when they are foraging in waters of other jurisdictions or on the high seas.


© Royal Australian Ornithologists Union 2002

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